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Taxi drivers say no to De Blasio's new traffic safety regulations

Dana Gethers | 2/21/2014, 10:36 a.m.

New York City taxi drivers are not happy with recent traffic safety regulations that they say may stifle their ability to make money. In an effort to decrease the number of pedestrian deaths, Mayor Bill de Blasio recently revealed a plan to decrease the city’s speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph. In addition, reports suggest his administration is considering a technology that would lower the fare or shut off the meter in a cab if the car is speeding.

But, city officials say lowering the speed limit by 5 mph, making it under 30 mph, will significantly decrease the likelihood of a fatal crash. Of the 11 New Yorkers killed in traffic accidents in the first two weeks of January alone, seven were pedestrians.

“Seventy percent of pedestrian fatalities involve speed or failure to yield,” said Police Commissioner Bill Bratton to the New York Post.

Bhairavi Desai, the Executive Director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, is against this regulation of the speed limit on taxi drivers.

“Drivers already have no guaranteed income, only expenses on the lease, fuel and vehicle repairs,” said Desai. “Every statistic shows taxi drivers are the safest drivers in New York City. We don't deserve to be singled out and punished to do even better.”

De Blasio maintains that the new regulations will ensure that drivers and pedestrians think about safety when behind the wheel.

“This is very much about raising consciousness and changing behaviors,” said de Blasio.

In addition to a decrease in the speed limit, the Transportation Department will install 250 more speed bumps and dozens of red-light cameras around the city.

The Alliance’s Executive Director, Desai, offers more taxi-cab friendly solutions such as, “making changes to traffic patterns and street design so that motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists are not all competing on increasingly narrow and congested space; better lighting, especially at crosswalks; more split signals directing turns, more traffic control agents; and public speed signs.”

De Blasio acknowledged that he may appear to be unfairly targeting the 30,000 plus taxi cabs in the city and said, “They play a particular role in our city, [and they] set a tone on the streets.”

Still, Desai maintains that the new technology is not the best solution for the city’s traffic safety problems. “To shut off the meter in the middle of a fare is not only insane ‘Big Brother;’ it's severe, cruel, and simply unhelpful.”