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De Blasio, taxi drivers at odds over safety plan

Jim Dolan reports from Midtown.
February 18, 2014 8:26:09 PM PST
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is offering his plan to try to make city streets safer.

But, there is stiff resistance from cab drivers who say they are being unfairly targeted.

The de Blasio plan, which needs state approval, is modeled after a Swedish plan called "Vision Zero".

Some of the proposals include, lowering the speed limit from 30 to 25, increasing speeding enforcement, and adding more red light and speed cameras.

There's also a proposal to pause a taxicab's meter if the driver goes over the speed limit, and that's a hot topic among taxi drivers.

The mayor's plan to reduce traffic and pedestrian fatalities involves virtually every pertinent agency of city government, but part of the plan does focus on taxi drivers, and how technology might be able to force their compliance.

The TLC hasn't made any final decisions about what exactly they'll do to crack down on speeding drivers, but they are considering a number of ideas, among them:

- Black box data recorders that would give precise information about what a taxi was doing in the moments before a crash

- Passenger alerts when a taxi exceeds the speed limit

- In car technology to actually limit the speed a taxi can go

- Fare reduction, actually lowering the fare on the meter when a driver speeds

"We're going to be the scape goats," said Victor Salazar, of the Taxi Workers Alliance, "It's an indication that the technology can be used as an instrument of punishment, it's just to a labor force that is 80,000 to 90,000 families."

"I was amazed we were singled out," said Mohammad Akhtar, a taxi driver.

Mohammad Akhtar has been driving since he was 19, and he says drivers are already targeted, and these proposals would make the job even harder.

"Please don't add more stress to it," Akhtar said.

Taxi drivers shouldn't worry too much. A spokesperson for the TLC said the technology for most of this doesn't even exist yet. These are really just outlines and ideas of what they would like to do in the future to make taxi drivers and all drivers in New York behave more responsibly.


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