It's already illegal

for cab drivers to use cell phones while driving—even hands-free—but that law's even more scoffed at than the city's futile jaywalking prohibition! So now the Taxi and Limousine Commission is taking on the seemingly impossible task of separating hacks from their phones, by proposing heavy new punishments for gabby cabbies.

Current laws only ban talking on cellphones, but the new restrictions would ban the use of any technology capable of making non-emergency phone calls or texting. Drivers would also be prohibited from wearing a Bluetooth device, even if it's not on. Also verboten: playing music and taking pictures. In fact, the only company a driver would have left on his or her lonely 12 hour shift would be voice-operated GPS—this is, besides (gulp) us, in the backseat.

The penalties are heavier too, and will get harsher for each violation within a 15-month time frame. Strike one will be a significantly higher fine than the current $200 plus a mandatory TLC "refresher" course. The driver's license would be suspended, plus another fine, for strike two. Third strike is you're fired. TLC Commissioner Matthew Daus tells the Post, "Every driver will be prohibited from even wearing a Bluetooth device on their ears and after three strikes will be out of our industry and off the road."

There will be a public hearing on the new rules before they go to a vote by the TLC board in November or December. The news comes on the same day officials revoked the license from a cabby who fatally struck an 8-year-old boy in Harlem in August. Witnesses said that driver Shaiful Alam was talking on his cell phone at the time of the accident, but investigators reportedly decided that was not true. However, they did discover that Alam had an "astounding" 11 points on his license from July 2007 to July 2008, and should have had an automatic license suspension.