Last night Friend of Gothamist [FOG] Robin Wellington was headed home to Brooklyn in a taxi when she noticed her cab driver reading a newspaper while driving. She let it slide at first, because the cab was lurching through stop-and-go traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge. But as they left the bridge and merged onto the BQE, the driver continued reading, holding the newspaper on the steering wheel. In his defense, at least the paper wasn't blocking the windshield? But Wellington, fearing for her safety, had had enough.
"My first reaction was that it really sucks to be a cabbie, if that's the only time you can read," Wellington tells us. "Once we got on BQE he kept reading, and that's when I asked him to stop. I think there's a limit there. I don't know why, but I draw the line at reading and driving on the highway. It just wasn't ideal reading traffic."
Wellington says the driver complied, but a fellow FOG, photographer Roselyn Fortuna, tells us she recently had a similar encounter with a reading-while-driving hack, and that one wasn't so cooperative. "I was headed downtown on the West Side Highway," says Fortune. "I'd noticed when he pulled over to pick me up that he had the newspaper on the steering wheel, and as we headed down the highway, he put it on the seat next to him—but kept reading! And he was really reading it, while also occasionally glancing at the road!"
Fortuna tells us that she finally asked the driver to stop reading, and he replied, "No, no, it's fine. I do it all the time and I've never gotten into an accident." She recalls, "I said no, it's not fine! All it takes is one instant for you to get distracted and we're dead." To which the cabbie said, "I'm just looking at the pictures." "No, you're not, you're reading," Fortuna says she told the driver, and after some more bickering, he finally stopped reading.
No cell phones, no reading—can't cabbies do anything for diversion? Apparently not. TLC spokesman Allan Fromberg tells us, "The TLC’s regulations require that 100% of a driver’s attention is reserved for the task of driving safely and for customer service, and if a passenger experiences anything less than that, we strongly encourage them to call 311 and let us know about it."