Janet Lee

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

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

From the foreword in the book “The Unarmed Truth” by John Dodson

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” MLK Jr.

“Whistle-blowers are a special breed. They risk their careers to speak the truth, even if everyone around them is entangled in a web of lies. They do it because honor and integrity are more important to them than their own self interest. The truth ruffles feathers. It upsets bosses and co-workers. But it needs to be done, and it takes someone with guts to stand up and speak out.”

I am a whistle blower. But nobody hears my whistle.

An old schoolmate of mine writes;

It (the partition risk/danger/compliance/viability issue) does fascinate me, how you can have such a solid sounding issue... and have the ones most affected by it… not agree.

I wonder why police and taxi drivers are not on your 'side' in this issue. Is it because the police actually want to practice brutality?? 

That's fascinating, isn't it? I don't know why others don't pay more attention. Just because it doesn't happen 'to you'directly doesn't mean it's not important. 

I can only guess... because it's not a Republican/Democrat thing… people don't know what 'side' to be on?

I dislike all the superficial political stuff that others post. I'd much rather get into a real issue like this one.

You are teaching me something here and now I look very carefully at the taxis and police cars in Vegas and other places where we travel here, out west. I also read more carefully the police reports/news about police actions and the conditions of their prisoners. I wonder if it's an 'east coast thing', where life is faster and more violent on average. Whatever, I am glad for this awareness you have provided. I am glad to have this useful issue to think about. 

You should feel more than proud for what you have accomplished so far and I hope you never give up!

Monday, January 13, 2014

How many people can fit into a yellow NYC taxicab?

 How many people can fit into a yellow taxicab?
From Driver Rule 54-15(g) (in PDF):
The maximum amount of passengers allowed in a yellow taxicab by law is four (4) in a four (4) passenger taxicab or five (5) passengers in a five (5) passenger taxicab, except that an additional passenger must be accepted if such passenger is under the age of seven (7) and is held on the lap of an adult passenger seated in the rear.


"is held on the lap of an adult passenger?"

Sitting on the lap of an adult passenger is a violation of state and federal laws.

Why doesn't the NYC TLC perform crash tests with this partition using dummies instead of humans, like they've been doing for 40 years?
If a news reporter was going to write about taxi passenger injuries in New York or Boston, or Philadelphia, you might as well also report on someone getting a cold sore or the fact that a man had his driveway paved.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Excerpt from a TLC Magazine article by Don McCurdy

"For several decades, New York City cabs have had to have partitions, those "bullet resistant" shields between the passenger and the driver. Some have a window, sometimes referred to as "weapons access holes", some are solid. All are face resistant. 
There's probably no truth to the rumor that the New York Regional Society of Plastic Surgeons paid to have them installed, but I digress. It has turned out that taxicabs have not been crash tested with the shields in them, only before the shields were put in them. This has never been a problem until it was discovered that the "Taxi Of Tomorrow" (TOT) was crash tested with the shield. Now that this revelation has come to light the safety of the drivers and the riding public has surged in importance. 
Now, after all these decades, it's been determined that not testing the taxicabs after the shield is installed is unsafe. Well, what a surprise. You might ask yourself, how has this dangerous safety violation escaped the attention of the ever vigilant Taxi and Limousine Commission? Well, the reality of the situation is that it was never deemed important until nobody wanted the TOT (Taxi of Tomorrow). So, to bypass the whiners in the industry the ever clever outgoing mayor, Michael "what term limits" Bloomberg, dreamed up the "danger" so that the TLC could spring into action and right this wrong, defend the safety of the riding public, save the lives of the downtrodden huddled masses driving to be free! Kinda brings a tear to your eye doesn't it?
Don't laugh, Mike is right now spending more money than most of you will ever make trying to take away your rights. The moral of our story? Politicians will ram what's good for you down your throat even if it kills you. Maybe I was wrong, this guy looks more presidential every day."

Don  McCurdy

My remark;

For several decades NYC has been aware of the dangers of illegal partitions. Now they are intent on the idea that all of those early partitions (1969-2013) are too dangerous because they've only been crash tested with humans. Now, the only "safe" partitions are those that have been crash tested with dummies... like the ones used in the spectacular (not) Taxi Of Tomorrow. Strange. 

Thursday, January 09, 2014

"You have officers who survive the trauma of a crash, but they die by fire and that should never happen,"

The photos show a dented steel grid section.

"You have officers who survive the trauma of a crash, but they die by fire and that should never happen,"

Clarence Ditlow, president of the Center for Auto Safety, a Washington, D.C., group focused on the U.S. automotive industry

“I know what a lot of people think,” he says. “They look at my face and think, ‘Oh, I couldn’t live like that.’ "

"I probably wouldn’t have wanted to be saved that night either, had I been awake and conscious."

10/15/13  E-mail from Crown-Vic fire survivor, Jason Schechterle, Phoenix, AZ former police officer responds to my plea for a dialog. Jason apparently has an appreciation for the partition knocking him out.

 This is not a Crowell partition

Hi Steve,

Thank you for the email. I'm not sure I'm the right person to dialogue about your concerns over partitions.

Mercifully, I was knocked unconscious after my collision and didn't have to suffer the fear and panic of being engulfed in flames.

I'm not sure if it was the partition or the impact that caused me to lose consciousness, but regardless I only suffered a mild concussion from that.

My activism for the past 12 years has been on rear end fuel fed fires and improving the safety there. I appreciate your efforts to further safety in police cars and again, thank you for reaching out.


Jason Schechterle

My Reply;


Thank you so much for taking the time for me. I have known of your case from the start and have been very apprehensive about contacting you out of regard for your healthy state of mind. You have surprised and amazed me. I would feel very bad if you misunderstood me. 

Great strides have been accomplished by you and others in enhancing safety from fuel-fed fires. 

I am moved by the case of Ellen Engelhardt, Massachusetts State Trooper,in addition to yours. She clearly suffered primarily from partition to head impact in a high speed rear end collision with no fire. 70 officers have died in fires, largely because they have been rendered unconscious and remain in the burning vehicle. Your case is one that demonstrates that failing to get out is critical. 

While your head injury was no where near as severe as Ellen Engelhardts' head injury, it was severe enough for you that you lost consciousness and surely would not have survived had it not been for people extracting you. Fires are bad... but remaining in a burning vehicle is even worse. Would you not agree?

I believe that the partitions are made in a sub-standard manner and I know that they are not certified to be in compliance with applicable federal law. There should be better, safer, legal partitions in these cruisers. I would like to provide them. The need for better compliance has to be demonstrated though, before I see any demand for my design.

A number of years ago the USDOT issued letters of warning, to some partition manufacturers, explaining that federal standards are not optional.

Please share your thoughts.

Thank you,

Steve Crowell

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Many Doctors Know about partition dangers

“Those partitions create a plastic surgeons’ dream.” Jack Lusk -  NYC TLC Chairman 1988-1991

As emergency department physicians for two of the busiest emergency departments in New York City, Bellevue and NYU Langone Medical Center, NYU physicians witness many injuries caused by taxi accidents. The injuries range from severe facial fractures and lacerations to traumatic brain injury and neck and spinal injuries.  Denise Hoyt-Connolly from NYU Langone Medical Center

“It’s a significant safety hazard,” said Dr. Jesse Taylor, a Plastic Surgeon at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, who operated on Marc Summers, TV producer. He’s seeing a growing number of injuries, related to cab partitions.

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

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. Gregory Husk - Chairman of Emergency Medicine, Beth Israel Medical Center, “You can't do this kind of work (Emergency Medicine) without being impressed that the taxicab partition breaks a lot of noses, a lot of lips, a lot of chins.''

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.”

“This is a New York City tragedy and public health issue that has not changed in almost two decades,” Dr. Lewis Goldfrank, chairman of emergency medicine at Bellevue Hospital and NYU Langone Medical Center told the Daily news. “We don’t have a good system to count them, but there isn’t a week that goes by that we don’t see at least two patients with these terrible injuries.”

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,"

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.”

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. Kai Sturmann - Acting Chairman, Emergency Department, Beth Israel  -  “I would like to see back-seat air bags.”

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."

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”

Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan, ACSH (American Council on Science and Health) President, “The deaths and injuries attributed to taxicab accidents are highly preventable.

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.

Dr. Seth Manoach, lead author of the report, said  'The plexiglas partition that seperates 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."             

From - 12/29/98 New York Times article about zero seat belt usage observed by N.Y. Univer. Research Team findings 4/97-8/97
Diane McGrath-McKechnie, Chairwoman of the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission – “The experience of New York City absolutely does not support the notion that partitions have increased the number of passenger injuries.” “We are well aware of the potential dangers of passengers not wearing their seat belts hitting partitions in short-stop circumstances.”

As officer safety and wellness is of the utmost importance to the International Asssn. Of Chiefs of Police you can be sure that we will continue to study all aspects of this issue.”        Erin Vermilye 2/25/2013

Frank Armstrong, Motor Vehicle Safety Compliance Enforcement Section Director, 6/22/84  "Dear Sir: It has come to the attention of this office that you may be in violation of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 by the manner in which you are installing partitions in taxicabs and/or police cruisers.“

Matthew Daus – TLC Chairman - “These cars and the partitions that are in them are 100 percent safe,”