Janet Lee

Janet Lee
Photo:Janet Lee, injured by a taxi partition.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

I used b a Patrick Bedard essay as a form, for this essay

SWC alteration of PATRICK BEDARD's  article February 1997
"How NHTSA has been playing GOD with your life"

            This is an article of Patrick Bedards' about air bags… altered to apply to the cab partition issue.

            Suppose, back a few years, the cab partition manufacturers and regulators fell in love with a new feature and loved it so much that they decided to require it in all new cabs ASAP. But on the road, that feature turned out to have an unforeseen side effect: Many years of cab partition use had failed to protect the many cab drivers who have been killed, even though their cabs were equipped with a so-called bullet-proof partition.

It gets worse. Suppose these cab partition manufacturers, in their negligent infatuation with this feature, put 12,000 cabs on the road with it, each one threatening its occupants with wrongful death every time they take a seat.
Would this be red meat for the tort lawyers? How many billions of dollars would they be seeking?
Imagine cab partition manufacturers trying to defend themselves by saying, "It's true, dear plaintiff, that your loved one was killed by this feature, but many others have been saved by it, so we ask you to accept your loss as a cost of protecting others."
A jury of twelve bozos wouldn't buy that excuse.
Obviously, the feature here is the cab partition. But cab owners can hardly be blamed; indeed, their warnings of danger to children and adults date back to 1967. It was the city governments that demanded the partitions, in cabs. Cab regulators have frequently attributed the initiative of requiring partitions to cab driver demands for more safety.
 It was negligent municipal governments that demanded these partitions in cabs on a hurry-up schedule, by September 1966 in Newark, September 1968 in New York and June 1969 in Boston, instead of prudently waiting to see what happened in trial fleets. They were municipal governments playing God with our lives that wrote specific design requirements for partitions that are unconscionable because they are biased against cab occupants. This is evidence of too much municipal action too soon.
In Sydney, Australia they instituted a partition requirement for their cabs - but abandoned it when drivers, owners and passengers roared their disapproval.
Long-time partition enthusiasts, the New York TAXI & Limousine Commission, have likened the deaths caused by taxi-cab partitions to the unpredictable side effects of vaccines - unfortunate, but necessary for the greater good they do. That idea is wrong. Cab partition injury and death are the perfectly predictable result of faulty partition design specifications. Cab regulators are not automotive engineers, yet for years they have postured themselves that way.
An article from the New York Times dated August 4th, 1972 said;
“Detroit needs three to four years to make really major changes and we had to work within this limit” Mr. Mautner said. “But this is a start and we have put Detroit on notice that we will be doing more… Stephen Wjlder, a Taxi Commission engineer who supervised preparation of the standards; said the agency had been discussing the evolving plan with the four major suppliers of city taxis - the Chrysler Corporation, Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Checker Motors - for several months, all were working to meet the standards.” The cab regulators in New York must have appeared fairly 'full of themselves' to the big four.

          The NYC TLC cab partition standard is convoluted and has a history of evolution in its' specifications. They have yet to require the partition to be certified to be compliant with federal standards despite many pleas from this complying manufacturer to do so.

Cab partitions are portrayed as friendly barriers that are there to keep unruly gun wielding assailants from hurting the driver. The actual truth is cabs are required to have partitions installed in order to create The illusion that the issue of cab driver murders has been addressed when it has not been. They do this with total disregard for passenger safety in collisions and driver safety in assaults.  

    Drivers continue to be killed in every city that requires allegedly bullet-proof partitions. Actually, murder rates increase when the partition;
A)    requires all robberies to done with a gun
B) precludes preemptory or retaliatory action on the part of the driver. Without a partition most robberies are done with a knife or an implied weapon and the driver can usually reach the assailant.
    Without a partition it is like 'two dogs in a cage'. With a partition it is more like 'shooting a fish in a barrel'.

Now, these predictable outcomes are coming home to kill our loved ones who happen to be in a taxi in any one of a dozen-odd cities in the US that require partitions.

Forcing all passengers to wear seat belts won't solve the collision risk problem. Because only two of three seating positions in cabs, front or rear, have three point restraints, a two point restraint will 'jack-knife' ones' torso forward impacting the partition, face first, with more force than one would suffer otherwise. Actually, seatbelts can only protect two, of six possible occupants, in the cab.

    Dianne McGath-McKechnie, TLC Commission Chairperson and Matthew W. Daus, Deputy Commissioner for Legal Affairs, both of the NYC TLC, have written;
    "Although there have been incidents of passengers injured in taxicabs as a result of contact with a partition, most serious injuries have occurred when the passenger has failed to use a seat belt. Seat belts and shoulder harnesses must be installed for rear passengers in taxicabs, and the belts must be maintained in good working order and be accessible to passengers."
    One might get the idea that unless the NYC TLC was 'on the ball' we would have no seat belts in taxis. One reason cabs have been without seat belts is due to the failing of the TLC to make them a cab inspection checklist item for decades.

Cab regulators and state agencies have inspected and approved
cabs without seat belts in place for years.

    Title 49 of the US Code, Chapter 301, Subchapter II, sec. 30103, prohibits municipal or state agencies from setting standards inferior to the Federal standards. It is truly amusing that the cab regulators adopt the identity of savior because they stop violating federal laws.

            When municipal agencies inspect and approve partitions in cabs they are in violation of Title 49 of the US Code, Chapter 301, Subchapter II, sec. 30103, because the partitions are sold without the mandatory certification of compliance label required by. Title 49 of the US Code, Chapter 301, Subchapter II, sec. 30115.
    Despite many communications sent to Dianne McGath-McKechnie and Matthew W. Daus, of the NYC TLC, which carried enclosures of the letters of warning sent on June 22, 1984 to partition manufacturers and one cab regulator (Boston), the TLC has refused to address the complaints of Federal violations in partition design. This has been swept under the rug. When the TLC reads letters that refer to Federal law the blinders appear to be in place.
    To fortify the viability of the TLC's position, a recent report is out from North Carolina State University (the STC Report - John R. Stone) that asks us to believe that partitions reduced assaults 20%.
    A four-year period is shown where no cabs used partitions for the first two years and for the next year and a half less than 10% used them, but by the last six months of the observed period, all cabs, in the city studied, used them. The assault rate was dropping 20% per year in each of the four years observed. If we are to believe that partitions caused this 20% decline, as Dr. Stone claims they have, then we have to believe that they were working for three and a half years before they were used. That's one outstanding device that works before it is used.
    Dr. Stone, the fellow that describes partitions as "intuitively effective", also wants us to believe that the assault rate is a proxy measure of the murder rate. How does that work!!? How this connection is made, is not revealed in the plethora of statistical gobbledy-gook in Dr. Stones' report, we are supposed to suspend our disbelief, I suppose.

    Hidden in his many charts is the 'statistic behind the curtain', his 200% increase in the cab driver murder rate with partition use. Actually it was 400% in the first four months of the first full year of mandatory partition installation.

Dianne McGrath-McKechnie;
"Most serious injuries have occurred when the passenger has failed to use a seat belt."

     Holding the unrestrained passenger responsible for injuries sustained attributable to belt non-use has no legal weight.

     New York University Medical Center did research from April to August of 1997 where they studied belt usage in NYC cabs, the New York Times reported on December 29th, 1998;

New York's Riders an Unfastened Lot
By Alisha Berger
            Despite taped reminders to buckle up from Eartha Kitt, Joe Torre, Joan Rivers and Placido Domingo and increased accessibility of seat belts in taxis, a new survey reports that passengers are not fastening themselves in.
            A New York University Medical Center research team took short trips in 60 Yellow Cabs between April and August 1997. The investigators looked at partitions, noted seat belt accessibility and observed driver seat belt use. They also observed 102 passengers entering and leaving cabs at stop lights.
            The N.Y.U. team, whose report appears this month in the American Journal of Public Health, found that seat belt accessibility has improved greatly since a similar investigation in 1986 - at least partly because of a 1990 law that required cab owners to make seat belts more accessible. Of the cabs surveyed, 75% had usable right rear belts, 40% had usable middle belts and just over 81% had left belts. In 1986 only 16% had accessible right seat belts.
            Neverthless, this was the number of passengers and drivers who were seen wearing belts: Zero. New York State does not require taxi riders or drivers to fasten their seat belts.

            Dr. Seth Manoach, lead author of the report, said;
  "The plexiglas partition that separates the front and back of the cab, protruding change dish, and metal border can cause serious injury in an accident."
            He urged taxi passengers to buckle up "Sit in one of the seats with shoulder and lap belts. The middle seats don't have them and during a front-end collision, your head is going to come forward and hit the barrier."

            ACSH President Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan, “The deaths and injuries attributed to taxicab accidents are highly preventable."
NY Times Article 7/20/98
"Dr. John E. Sherman, an assistant clinical professor at New York Hospital -Cornell University Medical College and a vocal critic of the partitions, said some of the blame rests with the commission, which he noted has specifications for the design placement and padding of the partition so vague that the partitions vary greatly from cab to cab. Some are so close to the back seat or have so many protruding, parts he said that even passengers who do wear seat belts - and few riders do - are sometimes thrown into them. In an afternoon, he said the mechanic who installs the partition can undo thirty years of advances in automotive safety."
'Detroit has a million crash dummy studies and when the car arrives in Queens it’s safe at any speed' he said. But then someone in Astoria throws in a plexiglas divider that no-one has tested and there is nothing standardized about it."

            "Dr. Ralph Upchurch, chief of emergency medicine at Somerville Hospital,
said 'not wearing a seatbelt in the back seat of a cab can be especially dangerous because of the plastic divider between the front and back seats' -- a device that is required in all Boston cabs."

            Dr. John E. Sherman and Dr. Seth Manoach may have been led astray or maybe they just refer to any plastic glazing as plexiglas.
            On July 16th, 1985 The Boston Police Department Hackney Division Commander, Capt. Cadegan, wrote to a prominent Boston surgeon in response to the doctors' letter about partition injury risk;
            Capt. Cadegan;
            "The reason for the safety factors mentioned above was to protect the taxi drivers from some of their customers who used knives and clubs to effectuate robberies."
Notice that the partition is supposed to eliminate the less deadly methods of cab driver robbery.

            Capt. Cadegan;
 "The plastic section of the partition was initially made of plexiglass but changed to 3/8" Lexon in 1982 after the death of a driver from a bullet wound inflicted by his passenger."
The word is LEXAN not Lexon. The police deserve no credit for the cessation of the practice of allowing plexiglas for partition glazing. They should also note that Lexan does not meet the minimum abrasion resistance requirements under federal law. At least Lexan is less likely to shatter like plexiglas. In 1982 the plexiglas killed the driver not the bullet according to Boston City Hospital doctors. The drivers brain was peppered with bits of plexiglas. That is always fatal.

            Capt. Cadegan;
            ”The Lexon material has been tested by the Police Department Ballistics Unit to determine its bullet resistant capability.  The tests proved that the material will stop a .22 cal, .38 cal.and .45 cal. round fired from the rear compartment of the taxicab."
The 3/8" Lexan is nothing like bullet-resistant. The tests conducted followed no specifics of the bullet-resistance rating test proceedures established by Underwiters Labs. The thinnest bullet-resistant 'rated' plastic glazing according to U.L. is 1 & 1/8" thich… three times thicker than the 3/8" Lexan required by the police.

            Capt. Cadegan;
         "In late 1984, one taxicab operator had the unfortunate experience of being subjected to a passenger attempt­ing to rob him and firing a .38 cal. round at said partition.  The round was deflected by the Lexon material and located on the rear shelf of the vehicle behind the rear seat."
If this story is true one cannot help but wonder what happened next! There is a strong implication that the partition is supposed to protect the driver from gunshots. This has never occurred.

         Capt. Cadegan;
         "The purpose of this shield is to stop a .45 cal. bullet fired from the rear seat at the driver of the taxicab."

This has never occurred. There is only one story, in a newspaper, which asserts the partition saved the driver. Nothing in the story corroborates the headline assertion.

By Matthew Brelis, Globe Staff 04/09/1994  Page: 18  Section: METRO

"John E. Naughton owes his life to a $350 shield of thick safety glass. The veteran taxicab driver had driven three passengers to DeWitt Drive in Roxbury late Thursday night when one of the passengers tried to shoot the 58- year-old with a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol.
One bullet lodged in the safety partition and the other missed Naughton and
lodged in the driver's side door.
"The partitions really help. It saved his life," said Armen Mahserejian, manager
of the drivers at EJT, a company that operates more than 100 brown- and-white Boston Cab taxis."
The fleet owner not the cab driver claims the partition saved the drivers life. If the bullet can hit the driver's door, it seems that the driver can credit his survival to bad aim rather than partition bullet-resistance. Or he can credit the sheer idiocy of attempting to shoot at the driver through the strongest window in the cab.

         Back to Capt. Cadegan's letter to Dr. Malt;
         "This Department has not been put on notice that any children riding in the rear compartment of our taxi­cabs have suffered any facial injuries.  We are in constant communication with attorneys involved in civil litigation with members of the Boston Taxi industry."

It seems that Dr. Malt only mentioned risk to children and not to adults. There is much more reason to be concerned about regarding the risk to children because children die in car accidents more than any other kind of accident. This may be because a child's 'head to body weight ratio' is higher in children than adults. There is no good reason to ignore the risk to adults.

         Capt. Cadegan;
         "Each instance wherein a driver is killed or seriously injured by a passenger, the majority of the drivers demand more protective measures."

There is no evidence that the drivers with that demand were a majority. Capt. Cadegan wrote this fourteen years after the partitions were required. If the partition actually works, the drivers must be referring to killings that occurred before 1970. Why would they be doing that in 1985? They might do that only if the partition has a 100% failure rate. I believe it does.

Monday, August 29, 2016

O. Kevin Vincent of the USDOT letter and my answer to it.

Steve Crowell
P.O. Box 303
Eastham, MA 02642
USDOT NHTSA Chief Counsel – O.Kevin Vincent
1200 New Jersey Ave. S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20590
Dear Mr. Vincent,
        First, I thank you for taking the time to respond to my October letter on January 11th, this year. Allow me to submit the following perspectives and data.
“Security” partition may be a misnomer.
Partitions installed in taxis (to reduce murders) have had a miserable failure rate. Every cab driver killed in Boston since 1970 HAD a partition in the cab. More drivers get shot now, with partitions.
Although this aspect is not a DOT issue, I offer the “1997 Baltimore report From NCSU’s urban studies professor Dr. John Randolph Stone, which says; “One of the most intuitively effective, yet controversial countermeasures is a taxi partition or shield.”
“Intuitively effective”? What does this mean? “We think it works, so let’s assume it does.”?
Dr. Stone supports taxi regulators who overstate the objective of taxi partition use. He also says; “This study makes one implicit assumption… it is assumed that assaults on taxi drivers are a proxy measure of taxi driver homicides. Thus, if shields reduce assaults then it can be assumed that they will reduce homicides.”  
You have no need to pay attention to his data which shows a 300% increase in cab driver murders. If… partitions are viable, or not, for murder rate reductions… is not a question your office would deal with. Your office would only deal with compliance issues, and performance issues in crashes, not assaults.
Regarding paragraph four; I only request that the agency do… as required by congressional directive. In order to reduce the frequency and severity of injury and the frequency of death, your agency should make it clear that partitions, IF USED, must be built and installed in compliance with all applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards.
Currently none are certified, and none comply. Regarding the merits of using a partition; you mention a trade off of safety in the absence of a partition. A previous USDOT letter (from Armstrong) mentioned a trade off of safety using a partition.
“Trading off safety” with a partition is illegal and cited in the original letter of warning in 1984.
Trading off safety by not using a partition is not your concern. There are no federal standards regarding operator retention of control, nor are there any regarding assaults on operators. Just what partitions may, or may not be viable for… is none of your business. If taxi regulators are telling the truth about assault prevention, or not… should not be up for discussion with USDOT personnel. Your job is to be sure partitions comply. Trading off safety by using an illegal partition is your concern. Any so-called trade-off of safety from assailants, from ‘not using a partition’ should not concern you.
I thank you for the information about FMVSS 226. Reading it cleared up my confusion about the ‘airbag/partition intrusion zone conflict’ question. If there are other standards that mention partitions, please let me know.
Do I understand correctly that because FMVSS no. 226 excludes partitioned vehicles, that Mr. Reid was correct when he said cabs and cruisers are exempt from all FMVSS’s? The confusion persists.
That partitions are built, offered for sale, sold or installed in violation of FMVSS’s, is your concern. Even if no injuries resulted, the law should be enforced anyway. Unfortunately, many deaths and injuries do occur. So many so, that NYC trauma surgeons were alarmed enough to conduct two studies.
Dr.  Talmor, Dr. Barie, Dr. Shapiro and Dr. Hoffman, Department of Surgery, New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, NY. In 1996 four surgeons from the Department of Surgery, New York Hospital-Cornell
Medical Center released a report, this is a review of it.

“Craniofacial injuries resulting from taxicab accidents in New York City”

Taxicab accidents are a common occurrence in New York City. This review was undertaken to characterize the nature of craniofacial injuries that result from taxicab accidents.
Data were collected on 16 patients who required admission to trauma or plastic and reconstructive surgery services, after sustaining craniofacial injury as a result of a taxicab accidents.
Front-end deceleration collisions were the most common mechanism of injury.
Fifty-six percent of the patients were thrown against the bulletproof, Plexiglas driver safety divider and sustained an injury most commonly to the anterior midface.
Both bony and soft tissue injuries were common in the entire group.
“Given the high incidence of craniofacial injury, appropriate safety standards for taxicabs must be initiated, including the reevaluation of the utility of the safety divider”
Another group also studied this matter.
Dr. Arnold Komisar,  Dr. Stanley Blaugrund and Dr. Martin Camins - Lenox Hill Hospital, NYC - "Every emergency room in New York is seeing patients injured in taxicabs: three here, four there, six at another hospital, so it's easy to underestimate the problem,"
Some other doctors have made independent comments about partitions.
Dr. John Sherman - Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery, New York Hospital, New York City -  "The results are uniformly disastrous: patients with head wounds from dividers, fractured noses, lacerations and worse.  Last month I saw two patients die from taxi-related injuries.”     http://www.nytimes.com/1995/01/14/opinion/l-we-need-protection-from-perilous-taxis-770395.html

I have spoken with Dr. Sherman more than once. He is exasperated and has stopped his efforts to correct the problem. He accepts the partition risks as part of life in NYC.

Dr. Marc Melrose - Emergency Physician, Beth Israel Medical Center, Manhattan - "Cabs don't have to get into an accident for people to be hurt. The cab stops short and you go flying into the screen with the handles and bolts and that metal change thing. It's dangerous." http://www.nytimes.com/1991/04/16/news/unplanned-taxi-destination-hospital.html
Dr. Rahul Sharma, NYUMC  - has worked in several city emergency rooms, is all too familiar with the  damage the anti-crime partitions, required since 1994, can cause. “Ask any ER doc in Manhattan, and they will tell you they see it very frequently,” he said. “People have a false sense of security in the backseat of a cab.”

Dr. Sharma has been working with Dr. Goldfrank and they are pursuing legislation to make people use seat belts in the rear seats of taxi cabs. I pointed out that correction of the violations of federal motor vehicle safety standards would solve the injury problem for BOTH front and rear seat occupants.

Dr. Stephen Pearlman - Upper East Side facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon - “Gaping soft tissue injuries are also prevalent, since an edge of a partition's sliding door or its metal track can tear the skin.” “In the most severe instances, this causes "almost an avulsion" of the nose.”        http://www.nysun.com/new-york/doctors-predict-fewer-taxi-craniofacial-injuries/51639/

Dr. Paul Lorenc – NYC Plastic Surgeon “Crushed noses, fractured cheekbones and eye sockets, and "stellate," or burst lacerations, are among the most common injuries suffered when a passenger is hurled into the clear partition.”
Dr. Geoffrey Doughlin - E.R. Director, Jamaica Hospital – ‘Since the partitions act as a second windshield, back seat passengers fall victim to the same type of injuries as people in the front passenger position, the "suicide seat," ‘

Dr. Gary Sbordone – Massachusetts Chiropracter  - “Could cause complex spinal injuries.”

Dr. Sbordone treated my spine injury from a partition in a rear end collision.
Dr. Kai Sturmann - Acting Chairman, Emergency Department, Beth Israel  -  “I would like to see back-seat air bags.”
Clearly, there is a problem with partitions in taxis.
There are problems in cruisers also. Those losses are difficult to document, but I have solicited a number of comments from officers who have boasted that they can use the partition to injure people. Here is one.
Tim Ray - a police officer of Monee, Illinois - wrote the following message to me on the internet. This message was available for anybody in the world to read.
Officer Ray is describing a cowardly, vicious felony, which can be fairly characterized as nationwide, institutionalized police brutality.
The sword cuts both ways. Officers are injured by partition grids also.
This steel grid is deformed by head impact from a front passenger seat occupant

        As a manufacturer of federally compliant partitions it would be absurd of me to campaign against the use of all partitions. I have never asked that all partitions be removed, just those that don’t comply and those that aren’t certified to comply. Beyond that, I’d like to see mandates for all partitions in taxis lifted. Use of a taxi partition should be a choice for the taxi driver to make. But that is not a DOT matter.
        If you are leaving enforcement to the cities and/or states, please explain their obligations under federal law, pertaining to setting standards that are lower than the federal standards.
Thank you,
Steve Crowell

2 Months before Clardy death

Attorney Michael Halpin
470 Worcester Rd
Framingham, MA 01702
Steve Crowell
P.O. Box 303
Eastham, MA 02642
Sunday, January 17, 2016

Dear Sir;
                I wish to thank you again for your time with us last December at the listening session. I hope the links we’ve led you to have helped with an understanding of the USDOT position on the applicability and enforcement of safety standards for cruiser partitions. If you have had any difficulty navigating the site, please let us know.
                We have been hoping to hear from your fleet manager. We have been expecting to discuss any challenges he has encountered in cruiser partition installations and costs which I am sure can be improved.
                I may not have discussed the benefits of using the Crowell Partition outside of the legal aspects at our meeting. There are storage, installation and replacement advantages to using this new design that are sadly lacking in other designs.
                Your fleet manager should be interested in the fact that the Crowell Partition installs with no drilling or cutting required. This improves ease of installation by avoiding unexpected hidden risks. Replacement is needed much less frequently also. The Crowell Partition is transferrable to new vehicles, reducing the need to buy an entire new unit when the interior configuration is much different in the replacement vehicle.
                Please free to forward this letter to your fleet manager for his feedback. Thank you.


Steve Crowell

USDOT Randy Reid letter

There certainly are safety standards for partitions, which is why the USDOT sent letters of warning to makers and regulators (see Armstrong letters). According to the 1985 USDOT Miller letter, there are no exemptions.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Heavy.com comments on the Clardy crash

    • I can assure you the partition is not illegal by any means nor was it the cause of his death. I am a police vehicle upfitter who has upfitted MSP cruisers. Please keep your ignorant replies to youself.
      • If you do a search on the blog I referred to, you’ll find the official letters of warning from the United States Department of Transportation, Motor Vehicle Safety Compliance Enforcement Section Director, Frank Armstrong, in which manufacturers and installers (people like you) are warned that federal motor vehicle safety standards are applicable to interior partition performance. Further searching will show you a three page letter from the United States Department of Transportation, Chief Counsel, Jefferey Miller, in which it is made abundantly clear that there is no exemption for emergency equipment. You are what the USDOT calls an “Alterer”. You have obligations that you seem to be unaware of. Anybody who doesn’t understand that the partition WILL strike the heads of front seat occupants, in a rear end collision, is probably also too addled to understand that it is rear seat occupants at risk in front end collisions. Not that prisoner safety is a concern. It apparently isn’t. Just look at the steel grid on the partition. You have my permission to continue with your ignorant comments.