Janet Lee

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

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Safety not an issue

Crash test results put off for a year? N.Y. Daily News article


·         NEW YORK
NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission will delay crash-test mandate for yellow cabs
| NEW YORK DAILY NEWS TRANSIT REPORTER |
DEC 16, 2015 | 12:27 AM
  
NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission will delay crash-test mandate for yellow cabs
The Nissan NV200 (pictured) is one of two yellow taxi models approved for the road. (AP)

Taxi riders are cruisin' for a bruisin' — or worse.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission will delay a requirement that yellow cabs must undergo a crash test with the hard, sharp-edged plastic partition in place — a rule approved in 2013 after doctors told the agency that passengers in an accident face a greater risk of head injury.
Only two out of 15 yellow taxi models approved for the road — including the Taxi of Tomorrow, also known as the Nissan NV200 — have gone through a crash test with the partitions installed. Eco-friendly hybrid models, meanwhile, are exempt.
The rule was supposed to go into effect this December, but low compliance got the TLC to push it off until the end of 2016 to make changes.
Doctors told the Daily News it's common for hospitals to see taxi passengers with lacerations and broken noses, though there are instaances of riders suffering from more severe head trauma.
"The vast majority of the injuries are not lethal, but they're disfiguring and they put people at risk," said Dr. John Sherman, chief of plastic surgery at St. Barnabas Hospital.
Sherman — one of the doctors who backed the rule in 2013 — slammed Mayor de Blasio's taxi agency for pushing off the crash-test rule, which he likened to consumer advocate Ralph Nader's crusade for reforms to dangerously designed vehicles.
The delay, he said, "would be contrary to public safety."
"The forehead and the mid-face hit these change trays and sharp edges and get serious injuries," he said, noting that the Taxi of Tomorrow partition is padded and designed to minimize chance of a rider smacking their head into it.
But taxi passengers risk more than a busted nose. Crash testing shows whether the partition would interfere with an airbag or affect how well the cab can handle a side-impact crash, according to Dr. Charles DiMaggio, professor of surgery and population health at NYU School of Medicine.
"The only way you can evaluate that is by crash test," he said.
He disagreed with the TLC's decision to delay the requirement.
"The message I take from that — I will be using my seat belt in the back seat of a taxi much more frequently, absolutely," DiMaggio said.
Cab Riders United director Michael O'Loughlin said the rule delay is a blind spot in the city's Vision Zero safety agenda.
"Instead of delaying implementation of this important safety standard for yellow taxi passengers by yet another year, TLC should act urgently to expand this important safety standard to protect passengers in all partitioned for-hire vehicles in all boroughs," O'Loughlin said. "Every passenger in every borough must have an equal right to safety in a TLC licensed vehicle."
Taxi officials have tried to get cab passengers to buckle up in the back seat with public service announcements and supporting a law requiring riders to buckle up in the front seat.
But much of the riding public likes to live dangerously, as just 38% of taxi passengers said they buckle up, according to a 2014 survey from the TLC.
TLC spokesman Allan Fromberg defended the delay in the partition crash test rule.
"Safety is not an issue, whatsoever," Fromberg said.
The Taxi of Tomorrow — crash tested with the partition already installed — will be the car of choice to replace cabs that retire starting next year, along with hybrid models. And any car maker that wants their vehicles to join the city's taxi fleet must meet the same specifications.
"Our goal...is to make sure cars with partitions are crash-tested," TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi said in a statement. "And we encourage car manufactures by creating a market."