Daily News on Distracted Cab Drivers: What’s the Big Deal?

In an apparent quest to see which local daily can issue the most ridiculously auto-centric assessment of the problems plaguing the public realm, the "New York" Post has some competition.

amd_axel.jpgIn August, 8-year-old Axel Pablo was killed by a cab driver in Harlem. Witnesses say the cabbie was on his cell phone. Though police cleared him of wrongdoing, the TLC has since revoked his hack license. Photo via Daily News
Commenting today on pending action by the Taxi and Limousine Commission to ban the use of electronic devices by cab drivers while their vehicles are in motion, the Daily News wonders: What's the problem?

According to the News, keeping cab drivers off the phone should only be required when passengers are present -- apparently because News editors believe distracted driving is a mere annoyance, rather than a well-documented threat to public safety:

The present TLC rules forbid cell chatting while cabbies are driving. That's reasonable; you shouldn't have to listen to your hack yack while you're paying $2 per mile, no more than you should be forced to listen to the radio at full blast.

But when drivers are alone, using their cabs as cars -- just like millions do -- they should live by the same rules as the rest of the population.

So instead of advocating for more stringent distracted driving laws for everyone who gets behind the wheel, the editors of the Daily News would prefer that we "cut some slack" to thousands of professional drivers who patrol streets teeming with vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists 24/7/365. Never mind that cell-phone-using drivers, hands-free or no, are four times more likely to be involved in a crash. And remember that national summit a couple of weeks ago, when the U.S. secretary of transportation declared distracted driving a "deadly epidemic"? Honestly, people: Where have you been?

For the record, the Post is in favor of the new TLC rules. And no wonder. It's hard to believe a position so ill-informed as that of the Daily News editorial board could be held by anyone who reads a newspaper on a daily basis, much less publishes one.