Rosenthal Wants TLC Licenses Revoked for Serious Failure to Yield Crashes

Legislation from City Council Member Helen Rosenthal would revoke hack licenses of cab drivers who kill or seriously injure pedestrians and cyclists while failing to yield.

Through a change to city administrative code that governs the Taxi and Limousine Commission, the legislation would require the suspension of the driver’s TLC license, pending an investigation, after a crash that results in death or injury to a pedestrian or cyclist. According to a press release from Rosenthal’s office, ”If the outcome of the investigation determines that the driver is guilty of ‘failure to yield,’ the driver’s TLC license would be automatically and permanently revoked.”

The proposed rule change follows the death of 9-year-old Cooper Stock, who was hit by a cab driver in January while crossing West End Avenue with his father. Cabbie Koffi Komlani was cited for careless driving and failure to yield, but he still holds a valid TLC license. Stock was one of three pedestrians killed by drivers in Rosenthal’s district last month.

Though points can accumulate through NYPD summonses or consumer complaints, under current rules even a habitually reckless cab driver can expect to retain his TLC license. As it stands, the TLC can suspend licenses for 30 days only when a cab driver has six or more points, and can’t revoke a license until a driver has more than 10 points. According to a recent Post story, summonses for failure to yield and running a red light add three points to a hack license, a reckless driving summons adds five points, and a ticket for driving from 31 to 40 miles per hour over the speed limit adds eight points.

If approved, Rosenthal’s proposal could be a significant step toward getting reckless cab drivers off city streets. It is unclear, however, whether investigations would be performed by TLC, NYPD, or both. If action against a hack license hinges on an NYPD summons, the rule change may not be as effective as intended.

The bill would apparently need to be modified to apply to curb-jumping crashes like the one in Midtown that took the leg of Sian Green. Sidewalk driving does not usually trigger a failure to yield summons. Also unknown is what constitutes “serious injury.”

Streetsblog has asked Rosenthal’s office for more details on the proposed legislation. We will update this post when we hear back.

While they kill and injure a large number of pedestrians and cyclists, a 2004 study found that cab drivers are less crash-prone on a per-miles driven basis than other NYC motorists. Cooper’s mother Dana Lerner said Albany needs to pass reforms that apply to all New York drivers.

“We need to change New York State law to make it a criminal offense to drive in a manner that seriously injures or kills a pedestrian or bicyclist who is following the law,” Lerner told DNAinfo. “It’s wrong for the state of New York not to address this immediately.”