According to a statement from the Taxi and Limousine Commission, the cab driver who fatally struck an 88-year-old grandmother on Sunday had not, in fact, worked 16 hours straight, with the agency contending that he took several hour-long breaks over the course of his shift.
A review of 73-year Salifu Abubkar's records finds that he began driving at 9 a.m. on Saturday, working for five hours until stopping for an hourlong break at 2 p.m. He then drove from 3 p.m. until 5:40 p.m., when he took another break. He logged in at 7 p.m., and had been working for around five and a half hours when he struck Luisa Rosario as she crossed an Upper West Side intersection near her home, walking with the light.
Abubkar was arrested for failing to yield to a pedestrian, and the TLC suspended his license.
Though the agency does have a rule prohibiting shifts of longer than 12 hours, the TLC says that "enforcement isn't straightforward," since breaks during shifts restart the clock. For that reason, among other technicalities, the TLC has never once issued a violation for drivers who break the rule.
"We are working on more effective ways to address the serious concerns of overtired drivers on our streets, and so the TLC will prioritize revisiting rules on this issue, and seeking and reviewing best practices to see how we can make them most effective across all the industries regulated by the TLC," spokesman Allan Fromberg said.
Fromberg does note that a specially designated team has met with drivers at more than 200 fleet garages and facilities to "hammer home the dire need for them to be vigilant" on the road, and that TLC has also issued 72 percent more traffic violations this year than last year. A "graphic 15-minute video" reminding drivers of the "tragic consequences of unsafe driving" has also been added to the TLC’s Taxi Driver Education Curriculum.
And remember, filing a 311 complaint isn't just for cabbies who refuse to take you to Brooklyn—you can file them for unsafe drivers as well, and they're effective.