Street Safety Alert: NYC Cabbies Log More Hours Than Long-Haul Truckers

A city cab driver jumped a curb on Monday, pinning a woman against a building in Midtown and injuring a second pedestrian. Photo via Gothamist

Every New Yorker who steps off a curb should read the Gotham Gazette story on the health problems associated with driving a city cab. If nothing else it’s an eye-opener, to say the least, in light of the potential impact of cabbie working conditions on street safety.

From a physical standpoint, driving is a sedentary activity, so it stands to reason that those who drive for a living are prone to a host of maladies.

Drivers are often forced to eat on the go, making fast food their easiest option. Few of them get any exercise whatsoever, and often suffer from back, hip and leg pain from sitting in a car all day. This lack of exercise combined with a bad diet has led to high rates of diabetes and high blood pressure among cabbies, according to health experts. Many of them even have kidney problems because they frequently can’t find a place to park when they need to use a bathroom.

Stress is also a significant problem — and no wonder, since according to Gotham Gazette, “most drivers work 60 to 70 hours per week.” That’s more time on the road than is permitted to long-haul truck drivers. While federal law limits truckers to 11 hour shifts, regulations from the Taxi & Limousine Commission say cabbies may work up to 12 hours at a time.

Of course there are a number of factors at play, including low pay and the inherent nature of the work itself. And there are no statistics that we know of on the number of cab crashes caused by driver fatigue or other ailments. But if the federal government says 12 hours behind the wheel is too risky for drivers who haul freight on interstate highways, how safe can it be for those carrying passengers on streets teeming with people?

As bad as those long days are for cab drivers themselves, it could be that they’re worse for everyone else.