Janet Lee

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

Friday, June 08, 2012

What's wrong with partitions?

Used in utility vans, limousines, taxis and police cars; automobile partitions are required to meet minimum federal motor vehicle safety standards for aftermarket automobile equipment. None do.

My self-interest is apparent. I build a great partition design. Mine isn’t illegal. Field trial use exposure in the two primary applications – cruisers and taxis, has been failure free. Attention to ‘legal compliance’ gets ‘swept under the rug’ in every application faster than the casual observer can see. I am often dismissed because I curse the darkness… while the light I offer… might result in benefit to ME. I intend to be very benevolent, when I’m capable, to those who suffer in the taxi & law enforcement arenas. I can’t even patent my design until there is SOME prospect of legal compliance in partition manufacture, sale, installation and use. I have been lobbying for decades with few tangible results. Results of some of my actions have gratified me despite the shortage of monetary reward over the last 30+ years. My investment has been total, financially, emotionally and spiritually.

Manufacture of substandard partitions is illegal.
Sale, or offer for sale of substandard partitions is illegal.
Installation of substandard partitions is illegal.
Failure to notify purchasers of defects in substandard partitions is illegal.
Failure to recall and remedy or repurchase substandard partitions is illegal.
Failure to certify compliance in the form of a label or a tag on the partition, at the time of sale, is illegal.
No state or political subdivision of any state has any authority to set lower standards than the federal standards.

The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) issued letters of warning to manufacturers. They have been mostly ignored. When corrective measures were mandated, they were carried out illegally.

The USDOT sent copies of the warning letter and a cover letter to the Boston Police Department Hackney Carriage Division (BPDHCD) Captain Donald Devine with an advisory to consider… making sure that ‘checking for seat belt retention’ become part of the regular taxi inspection program. The corrective measures needed should have been carried out at no cost to the purchaser, by the manufacturer. Two or three years after the advisory to the BPDHCD, the taxi inspection procedure began to enforce the seat belt retention specification.
The BPDHCD chose to shift the burden of the cost of corrective measures from the manufacturer… to the purchaser. This illegal burden of the cost of corrective measures, placed on cab owners, prompted considerable anger directed at me.
The USDOT cited, to the violators (partitions makers and the BPDHCD), the source of the original complaint. It was common knowledge that I (Steven Crowell) initiated the original complaint. When cab owners went to the partition installer for re-installation of the illegally removed seat belts, the shop personnel heard complaints about the ransom cost of seat belt re-installation. My name was mentioned to each cab owner. Subsequently, numerous cab owners approached me. Compared to the hostility, any experienced cab driver learns to become inured to, those cab owners were tame. I countered their rage at me about the cost of seat belt re-installation, with my observation that they had been violated first, by the illegal removal of the seat belts and then violated again, with the cost burden of corrective action. Most didn’t require me to produce the specific legal citations. Those who did, seemed disinclined to proceed against the taxi regulator or the seat belt extortionists. I urged them to proceed. I believe none did. The USDOT and the BPDHCD both deliberately exposed me to retribution from numerous interested parties.
Hazardous, illegal partition performance has been gruesomely poor.
Officers, rendered unconscious from post-cranial impact with the partition in rear-end collisions, fail to exit burning cruisers and die in infernos.
Hundreds of stolen police cruisers, expected to be ‘secure’ because of the partition, have put trunks full of riot gear in the hands of criminals. That is a Homeland Security matter.
Officers boast about the latitude to mutilate prisoners which is available with partition hazard-risk. They call it ‘waffling’ the prisoner. The FBI has written to me that they see no federal violation if officers slam on the brakes to hurl prisoners into the steel grid section of the partition. Waffling is a cowardly vicious felony. Strictly speaking, the mere presence of the steel grid constitutes a violation of Geneva Convention rules against torture.
Taxi regulation by ’law enforcement’, is more the ‘rule’ than the exception in urban areas. Partition use in taxis has been an abject failure. Studies, wrongly, conclude otherwise. No studies were conducted during the first 30 years of the ‘taxi partition use experiments’ which were conducted in Boston and New York. Careful scrutiny of the data provided in the studies shows a decline in attacks on cab drivers with partition use (20%), but also showed a 300% increase in murder.
Partitions merely inspire criminals to upgrade from a knife to a gun.
The barrier in a taxi creates an adversarial atmosphere. The atmosphere also hampers communication, essential for perceiving early warning indicators of difficulty.
Questions abound concerning the rules of taxi-riding when there is a partition present. Incidents involving taxi partitions, although scrutinized by several layers and levels of law enforcement, ALWAYS divert responsibility for failure to anything… anything other than the partition design or performance.
Is the formerly five passenger taxi… now a three passenger taxi?
What compensation is there for the loss of income potential? What compensation is there for the decreased ‘occupancy rate’ from five to three passengers?
If the partition is rendered moot, when a passenger pays at the drivers’ door… is the driver entitled to require payment BEFORE the passenger gets out of the back seat?
1. If a passenger is not supposed to be restrained, who is responsible for damages that occur as a result of ‘untimely passenger exit’ from the taxi?
What is the liability exposure for taxi regulators who require partitions to address murder… if more murders occur?
What is the liability exposure for taxi regulators who require partitions or for partition makers who manufacture, offer for sale and sell taxi or police cruiser partitions… and then subsequently ignore warnings from NYC Trauma Surgeons, the USDOT, makers of the altered automobiles, attorneys, the communications media and me?
Disproportionate (with private cars) insurance cost increases (450% in the first 8 years), by law, reflect disproportionate increases in losses in taxis… if… partitions are required. These losses never involve passenger attacks. The insurance covers injuries to taxi occupants only when they are injured or killed due to collision impact with the illegal partition. Most taxi fleet managers misinform drivers telling them that drivers are not ‘covered’ by the Bodily Injury Liability policy on the cab.
Who should pay compensation to cab owners for the cost difference involved in insuring illegally partitioned taxis?

As usual… I digress. I’ll stop here… and see if I get a response.

I expect that officers ‘waffling prisoners’ will interest you more, than increases in cab driver murders. I understand, connecting the dots is easier there.

This is submitted in loving memory of the departed, victims of the most prevalent category of ‘on the job murder’… cab drivers... who lost their lives, and whose loved ones rarely ever qualified for any ‘protection’ from the impact of the loss of their loved ones,
AND in loving memory of those who have departed earthly bounds while ‘Serving & Protecting’, with no envy, resentment, or elitism over the fact that families of police officers have resources come their way that is unheard of… in the taxi industry.

Steve W. Crowell

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