Janet Lee

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

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Automakers and the TLC parry about partitions and injuries, but never question partition makers.

MTBOT
On August 29, 2008, Richard D. Emery, an attorney for the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, wrote to automakers including Nissan, Toyota, Ford, Honda, General Motors and Volkswagen requesting that they certify that their hybrids or alternative fuel vehicles are manufacturer-approved to be used as taxicabs and safe when modified with partitions and other TLC requirements.

HONDA
In a September 19th 2008 response to Mr. Emery, a spokesman for Honda said “Honda vehicles are not sold or recommended for use as taxicabs.” 
However, in a July 16, 2008 industry notice informing taxi owners which vehicles they can purchase for taxi use, the TLC lists the Honda Civic [tag]Hybrid[/tag] as one of nine approved vehicles for taxi use.

TOYOTA
Another automaker, Toyota, the largest manufacturer of hybrids in the world, has not responded to Mr. Emery. 

However, a Toyota spokesman told the [tag]New York Times[/tag] on April 27, 2008, that “our engineers are nervous about it because they were not designed for commercial use.” 

According to the article, “Toyota did not help convert cars into taxis because they were not intended to be driven so heavily.” Still, in the July 16, 2008 TLC industry notice, the TLC lists 3 Toyotas, the Prius, Highlander and Camry on its approved vehicle list — 1/3 of all approved vehicles. Several Toyotas remain in service as New York City [tag]taxicabs[/tag].
NISSAN
Nissan, which claims to be committing up to 200 Altima Hybrid taxicabs per month, refers Mr. Emery to a July 23, 2008 TLC letter that claims the partitions do not hinder side curtain airbag deployment. 

Nissan offers no crash test results on Altimas that are modified with partitions and concludes its response by stating: “If you have an underlying concern with the mandate to use fuel efficient vehicles, this situation is a result of New York policies, not Nissan’s actions.”
FORD
At a September 10th 2008 [tag]New York City Council[/tag] hearing, [tag]Ford Motor Company[/tag] acknowledged that “there is an increased risk for belted occupants to contact the partition in a collision” for “any vehicle with a smaller occupant space than the stretch Crown Victoria” noting that it is “not unique to the Escape Hybrid” which indeed has much smaller occupant space than a stretch Crown Victoria.

Ford seems to be under the mistaken notion that a passengers' proximity, be it one foot... or three feet, to the partition, will somehow change the 30 mph passenger impact with the partition. 


Ford refused to certify the crashworthiness of Escape Hybrid taxicabs outfitted with partitions, instead shifting responsibility to the TLC which it says “has an important job in making judgments that balance competing benefits and risks involving driver and customer safety in a unique operating environment.”

GENERAL MOTORS
General Motors also refused to certify the crashworthiness of its Chevy Malibu Hybrid taxicab when modified with a partition or other TLC requirements. In a letter to Mr. Emery dated September 25th, 2008, GM wrote “your client’s concerns about the taxicab partitions required by the TLC should be addressed to the TLC.” GM was silent about the Saturn Vue Hybrid, which also appears on the TLC’s approved vehicle list.
VOLKSWAGON
Volkswagen, which produces a clean diesel Jetta that appears on the TLC approved list, was also asked to certify the safety, suitability and crashworthiness of its TLC-approved hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles when modified with partitions and placed into service as taxicabs but, to date, has not responded.
THE NYC TLC
The TLC has confirmed that it does not crash test hybrid taxicabs modified with partitions and says it relies, in large part, on federal testing to assert the safety of hybrid taxicabs. However, it has also been established that there are no federal crash tests for hybrid taxicabs modified with partitions — nor are there front or rear crash tests in unmodified hybrids for adult rear occupants, which comprise the majority of taxi passengers.

C.BRUCE GAMBARDELLA
Hybrid automakers explicitly warn against any modifications to hybrid vehicles in the owner manuals. And indeed, according to automotive engineer C. Bruce Gambardella, partitions in hybrids are a “crude modification” that “changes the entire interior environment and takes us back about a half a century in automotive safety.”
http://www.yellowcabnyctaxi.com/nyc-taxi/toyota-honda-warn-hybrid-taxis


STEVE CROWELL

Indeed, according to the federal law, the partition manufacturer must comply and certify compliance. 


Richard D. Emery, Nissan, Toyota, Ford, Honda, General Motors and Volkswagen and the NYC TLC all seem to be ignorant of this basic fact;

The USDOT may, after receiving complaints, ORDER crash testing to be done. Of course, after exposing millions of passengers to severe risks of head injury and or death, with disastrous results, any federally mandated crash testing would be redundant. We have plenty of data using real human victims. Just ask Dr. Sherman or Dr. Goldfrank.

Ford says the NYC TLC “has an important job in making judgments that balance competing benefits and risks involving driver and customer safety in a unique operating environment.”

Ford seems to be apologizing for the TLC's violations of federal safety laws..

The USDOT... HAS received numerous complaints. Copies of their recent dismissals are posted on this blog. 

Also available since 5/6/13 on this blog, are copies of the earlier 'letters of warning' and a copy of a later three page legal interpretation of the applicability of the USDOT Law to partition performance in taxis and police cruisers, written by the Chief Counsel for the USDOT

I have invited Dr. Goldfrank and Dr. Sherman, the MTBOT, the NYC TLC and Nissan to review these official letters and have never received any feedback from any of these parties about them.

Isn't it strange the TLC approves dangerous partitions for HP and Hybrid taxis?

 Any taxi with the partition that has been required, inspected and approved by the TLC for 40+ years, such as the type still allowed for hybrids or HP's, is subjecting the occupants to serious injury from partition window edges. A major advance in taxi partition design was the elimination of the hazardous window edges. This feature first appeared in my design 34 years ago. The "no wondow" partition is a primary difference between the design and what has always been historically, required, inspected and approved, (until recently). The new partition design which is touted to be safer, now that crash test dummies have been used, has no window, as per my strongly worded advice to Nissan. Old formerly approved partitions with windows are now deemed to be unsafe for all... except HP and Hybrid taxis. HP and Hybrid taxi may continue to use the design with the window edges. This scenario ignores the crash testing that has been done with real people for over 40 years in NYC taxis. Considering that the CDC in Atlanta recently declared that partitioned taxis had no fewer murders than those without partitions, wouldn't it be smart to eliminate the partition requirement? Let those who use - decide.

Read more: http://wot.motortrend.com/automakers-respond-to-concerns-over-hybrid-taxi-safety-2293.html#ixzz37dfD4l7q