That headline did not contain a typo. Indeed, New York City police burned through its citation pads to slap 7,500+ drivers with fines totaling more than $978,000 for the city. Not bad for a day’s work. That’s not to say money was the motivation for this. I’m sure NYC’s finest was just trying to keep the streets safe. But still… wowsers. All those violations, at $130 a pop, were for the same thing — using a mobile phone while operating a vehicle. (Last year, the NY police’s average was 536 in a day.)
According to the NYPD, this truly was more of a promotional campaign than a fundraiser. This is the third time this year that the department launched a one-day crackdown to draw attention to the dangers of cell phones and driving. (The other two were in May and August.) How many of the fined were taxi drivers? No idea, but I’m guessing a lot.
Speaking of the fair city’s cab drivers, the NYC Taxi Commission has a complete cell phone ban on the table that would prohibit them from using mobile devices — even with a hands-free kit — while their vehicles are in motion. (It’s fine in a parked car, though.) What’s being proposed involves a heavier fine for first offenses, a 30-day suspension for second offenses and a potential revocation of a driver’s taxi license for three strikes within 15 months.
It may seem like a drastic measure, but as someone who’s had death-defying rides with fast-talking, mobile-equipped cab drivers, or had near brushes with them on the street, I am totally in favor of this. In fact, I am struggling to remember one cab ride in the last couple of years that wasn’t with a loud fella arguing with someone on the line. FWIW, this is one NYC tradition I would love to see go away.