A new Vision Zero proposal would require front-seat passengers in cabs to buckle up, as well as children under the age of 16—both of which are currently exempt in a bizarre seat belt loophole.
“Seat belts save lives and... this is a common sense approach to expanding their use,” Taxi and Limousine Commission chairwoman Meera Joshi told the Daily News. “We’ve had a lot of success using high-tech to solve customer-service and safety challenges, but sometimes, going ‘back to the future’ to a lower-tech solution like seat belts is the answer you need."
No kidding! Backseat passengers (which compose 99 percent of all cab passengers, citation needed) are still free to slide around at will. From the TLC:
Drivers of yellow medallion taxicabs and for-hire vehicles and their passengers, are exempt from laws regarding car seats and seatbelts. Keep in mind, the TLC encourages everyone in the vehicle to buckle their seatbelts while riding in a cab. There are no Taxi and Limousine Commission rules regarding this, as it is a State exemption. Passengers with children are encouraged to bring their own car seats, which the drivers must allow passengers to install. *NOTE - Children under the age of seven are permitted to sit on an adult's lap.
The current exemption is due to a decades-old idea that cabs qualify as mass transit, and thus do not require passengers to wear seat belts. Also? "Seat belts are not required in emergency vehicles, 1964 or older vehicles, or by passengers in buses other than school buses," according to the New York DMV. Now you know!
If the proposal—which would need to be approved by the Albany legislature—is enacted, the passengers (or parents) could be hit with fines between $25 and $100.
In a separate, more sweeping initiative introduced Monday, state Senator Brad Hoylman called for ALL passengers to wear seat belts. Why disparate pieces of legislation? The Vision Zero proposal is a painless, common sense fix, a de Blasio spokesperson told us, while Hoylman's bill would require a broader change in state law, which would demand a more detailed conversation with the DMV.
Data from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration shows that when lap/shoulder seat belts are used properly, they reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50 percent.