The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission is developing tougher cell phone rules for the 100,000 drivers under its jurisdiction.

Tougher Cell Phone Rules Coming for 100,000 NYC Drivers

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission is developing tougher rules to prevent the 100,000 drivers under its jurisdiction from using cell phones and other devices in any way as they drive.

Marisa Taylor reported Tuesday on The Wall Street Journal's Digits technology blog that the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) is developing tougher rules to prevent the 100,000 drivers under its jurisdiction from using cell phones in any way as they drive. More enforcement, higher penalties for violations, and driver education and passenger outreach are spelled out in the proposal, which Taylor posted in the blog. YellowCabNYC.com also reported the commission's plan on Oct. 16.

(No word on whether the commission will also crack down on Ben Bailey, the driver who quizzes passengers on Discovery Channel's popular Cash Cab show.)

TLC was created in 1971 and is the most active U.S. taxi and limo licensing regulatory agency, licensing and regulating more than 50,000 vehicles and about 100,000 drivers. It performs safety and emissions inspections on more than 13,000 taxicabs three times annually. The agency prohibited use of hand-held and hands-free cell phones while driving in 1999 but says this in its proposal: "Despite the prohibition, drivers continue to use their phones and other types of technologies. Enforcement in the field has become more difficult because of recently-emerging technology, most notably Bluetooth devices."

Increasing fines will be a deterrent, TLC says. It will hold a public hearing in November or December on proposed rule changes that address new technologies, bar drivers from using or even wearing Bluetooth and other devices, and set up a Distracted Driver Program that assigns points for violations, which can lead to suspension or revocation of a license. One conviction for using a cell phone will bring an increased fine and a safety refresher course, while two within a 15-month period will bring a higher fine, 30-day suspension, and mandatory safety refresher course.

Exemptions will be provided for emergency use.

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