Janet Lee

Janet Lee

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Automakers and the TLC parry about partitions and injuries, but never question partition makers.

On August 29, 2008, Richard D. Emery, an attorney for the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, wrote to automakers including Nissan, Toyota, Ford, Honda, General Motors and Volkswagen requesting that they certify that their hybrids or alternative fuel vehicles are manufacturer-approved to be used as taxicabs and safe when modified with partitions and other TLC requirements.
In a September 19th 2008 response to Mr. Emery, a spokesman for Honda said “Honda vehicles are not sold or recommended for use as taxicabs.” However, in a July 16, 2008 industry notice informing taxi owners which vehicles they can purchase for taxi use, the TLC lists the Honda Civic [tag]Hybrid[/tag] as one of nine approved vehicles for taxi use.
Another automaker, Toyota, the largest manufacturer of hybrids in the world, has not responded to Mr. Emery. However, a Toyota spokesman told the [tag]New York Times[/tag] on April 27, 2008, that “our engineers are nervous about it because they were not designed for commercial use.” According to the article, “Toyota did not help convert cars into taxis because they were not intended to be driven so heavily.” Still, in the July 16, 2008 TLC industry notice, the TLC lists 3 Toyotas, the Prius, Highlander and Camry on its approved vehicle list — 1/3 of all approved vehicles. Several Toyotas remain in service as New York City [tag]taxicabs[/tag].
Nissan, which claims to be committing up to 200 Altima Hybrid taxicabs per month, refers Mr. Emery to a July 23, 2008 TLC letter that claims the partitions do not hinder side curtain airbag deployment. Nissan offers no crash test results on Altimas that are modified with partitions and concludes its response by stating: “If you have an underlying concern with the mandate to use fuel efficient vehicles, this situation is a result of New York policies, not Nissan’s actions.”
At a September 10th 2008 [tag]New York City Council[/tag] hearing, [tag]Ford Motor Company[/tag] acknowledged that “there is an increased risk for belted occupants to contact the partition in a collision” for “any vehicle with a smaller occupant space than the stretch Crown Victoria” noting that it is “not unique to the Escape Hybrid” which indeed has much smaller occupant space than a stretch Crown Victoria. Ford refused to certify the crashworthiness of Escape Hybrid taxicabs outfitted with partitions, instead shifting responsibility to the TLC which it says “has an important job in making judgments that balance competing benefits and risks involving driver and customer safety in a unique operating environment.”
General Motors also refused to certify the crashworthiness of its Chevy Malibu Hybrid taxicab when modified with a partition or other TLC requirements. In a letter to Mr. Emery dated September 25th, 2008, GM wrote “your client’s concerns about the taxicab partitions required by the TLC should be addressed to the TLC.” GM was silent about the Saturn Vue Hybrid, which also appears on the TLC’s approved vehicle list.
Volkswagen, which produces a clean diesel Jetta that appears on the TLC approved list, was also asked to certify the safety, suitability and crashworthiness of its TLC-approved hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles when modified with partitions and placed into service as taxicabs but, to date, has not responded.
The TLC has confirmed that it does not crash test hybrid taxicabs modified with partitions and says it relies, in large part, on federal testing to assert the safety of hybrid taxicabs. However, it has also been established that there are no federal crash tests for hybrid taxicabs modified with partitions — nor are there front or rear crash tests in unmodified hybrids for adult rear occupants, which comprise the majority of taxi passengers. Hybrid automakers explicitly warn against any modifications to hybrid vehicles in the owner manuals. And indeed, according to automotive engineer C. Bruce Gambardella, partitions in hybrids are a “crude modification” that “changes the entire interior environment and takes us back about a half a century in automotive safety.”

Isn't it strange the TLC approves dangerous partitions for HP and Hybrid taxis?

 Any taxi with the partition that has been required, inspected and approved by the TLC for 40+ years, such as the type still allowed for hybrids or HP's, is subjecting the occupants to serious injury from partition window edges. A major advance in taxi partition design was the elimination of the hazardous window edges. This feature first appeared in my design 34 years ago. The "no wondow" partition is a primary difference between the design and what has always been historically, required, inspected and approved, (until recently). The new partition design which is touted to be safer, now that crash test dummies have been used, has no window, as per my strongly worded advice to Nissan. Old formerly approved partitions with windows are now deemed to be unsafe for all... except HP and Hybrid taxis. HP and Hybrid taxi may continue to use the design with the window edges. This scenario ignores the crash testing that has been done with real people for over 40 years in NYC taxis. Considering that the CDC in Atlanta recently declared that partitioned taxis had no fewer murders than those without partitions, wouldn't it be smart to eliminate the partition requirement? Let those who use - decide.

Read more: http://wot.motortrend.com/automakers-respond-to-concerns-over-hybrid-taxi-safety-2293.html#ixzz37dfD4l7q

Friday, May 30, 2014

More guns, less crime?

For many years the news media and the police in New Orleans made a fatal mistake. That is, until 1997. Boston, New York and many other cities still have it wrong and more people die from being shot, because of this policy error.

In 1997 - the New Orleans Times Picayune changed their editorial policy from the usual story; "Witless, vulnerable dupe of a cab driver - easily slain in a remote area, by a lone gunman, who used the taxi for his get-away. Police have few leads" This actually inspires more aggression against the apparently unarmed cab driver.

When it becomes less apparent that the driver is unarmed, crime goes down.

The Times Picayune newspaper published an editorial that called partitions ineffective but also said they probably should be required for taxis. I called the writer of the editorial and suggested that portraying cab drivers as vulnerable... is risky, for cab drivers.

The standard operating procedure, as advised by the police authorities, is, for the driver to yield to aggressors and surrender anything demanded by the assailant.

I suggested that the Times Picayune newspaper start describing New Orleans cab drivers as deadly, when faced with a deadly threat. I suggested they run with the angle that it is dangerous to try to rob a New Orleans cab driver, not easy. After all, it is true, that many New Orleans cab drivers DO carry firearms.

That conversation took place in 1997. From 1994 to 1997 - 13 cab drivers were shot dead. After the change in the editorial policy took place in 1997, the murder rate went to zero for over ten years. This happened in the deadliest city, in the deadliest occupation. Had the usual editorial policy remained in place, as many as 30 cab drivers might have been shot dead in those ten years.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Crash test with taxi partition

This is what I've been SAYING FOR YEARS!!!! 79 kilos of force is what you get when you break the hard glass. When a passenger hits the hard lexan of a taxi or police cruiser partition in the U.S. it STOPS them. You don't pass through it. It STOPS you. It certainly causes death, frequently.
Currently, tests are being conducted with the new 'iconic' Nissan NV200 NYC taxicabs, using dummies, for the first time. It has been decided by the NYC TLC that the partitions used in NYC taxis for the last 40 years... needs no more testing. It has failed and will no longer be acceptable for most NYC cabs. The evidence that they maim and kill is overwhelming. The TLC still allows the inferior partitions in handicap and hybrid cabs, strangely.

Shocking partition impact video

Sunday, April 06, 2014

What is a deadlier assault risk? US Combat or US Cab Driving?

There has been a long lasting 'war on drugs' in the US... for decades. It is not unfair to call 'cab driving' territory, the 'front line' of that war, or where the most fatal assault occurs.
Are drug addled US addicts more effective at killing than AlQuida?
Here is an answer to the question; "Which is deadlier... war or cab driving?"
The casualty rate in the military has consistently dropped in the US from the Revolutionary war to where we are today. For the latest statistics we have - 2008, there were 1,441 deaths out of 1,683,144 active duty. Of those deaths, however, only 352 were from hostile action, and 43 by homicide - a total of 395 out of 1,683,144, or .023%. The rest were from illness or accident.
By contrast 154,000 active Full Time (I'm including only full time drivers, to match the criteria in the military statistics, but this ALSO includes limo drivers). taxicab and limousine drivers were counted in the 2000 Census and during the same year, an astonishing 49 murders were reported (it is suspected that 49 is lower than the actual number). So the murder rate for full time taxi drivers in the US is .032%.
So for individuals who willingly entered into combat, the death rate is 0.023%, while the murder rate for an individual who signed up to transport people from one place to another so they could support their families is 0.032%.
It is worth noting that combat slain soldiers' loved ones get benefits. Cab drivers do not. Although the honors bestowed on military slain are not enough. My brother suffered from the effects of agent orange. Not enough can be done for these people who sacrificed their health and sometimes their lives.
In the past when a cab driver was killed, newspaper reports often cited a theory that the driver may or may not have angered the passenger prior to the assault. Many assaults were scrutinized by the police to get an understanding of whether or not... the assault was 'provoked'. Often the first question by the police was, "Did the driver do anything to anger the assailant?" There was an unspoken suspicion that some drivers brought it on themselves, by being rude or by overcharging.
I contend that if cab drivers follow the example of New Orleans, the fatal assault rate would be so small, it will be difficult to quantify such small numbers.
In New Orleans, there were 13 killed in 3 years, 94-97. When the newspapers stopped the tear-jerking stories about the poor, witless, vulnerable cab driver who was so easily slain, in a remote area, for a large amount of cash, and only wrote stories where cab drivers PREVAILED in fatal assault attempts, four drivers were shot at, from 97-2003. Three times drivers returned fire. Two attackers were slain. No charges against any drivers for weapon violations. The cab driver murder rate dropped to zero for 13 years, in the deadliest US occupation, in the deadliest US city.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

ensures that all auto manufacturers, not partition makers, are held to the same high safety standards."

"To minimize injury to taxi passengers and drivers resulting from partitions when a vehicle is
involved in an accident, the rules require that the vehicles described below be crash tested by
auto manufacturers with the TLC authorized partition installed. A limited exception is made for
hybrid electric and accessible vehicles, allowing such vehicles to be hacked up as taxicabs until
one hybrid electric and one accessible vehicle, respectively, are crash tested with a TLC
authorized partition. Requiring crash testing with TLC authorized partitions ensures that all auto
manufacturers looking to participate in the New York City taxi market are held to the same high
safety standards."

Friday, March 21, 2014

"The Protective Plate"

"The protective plate must join or overlap with the transparent portion of the
partition and extend downward to the floor of the vehicle."

This is never going to happen. The floor of all vehicles includes the need to place ones feet under the front seat, when seated in the back. If the partition extended all the way to the floor there would be no 'foot room' for rear seat occupants.

 The protective plate must be a plate of 0.085-inch thick bullet-resistant ballistic steel or its equivalent
[recommended by the Chairperson and approved by the Commission] if approved
by the Deputy Commissioner for Safety and Emissions."

Bullet resistance is required because...

Well, it isn't required because, they can shoot the driver, anyway.

Bullet resistance is required because, the requirement itself creates an illusion of protection.

 The protective plate must be installed inside and covering the front seat’s entire backrest."

"must be installed inside" ? Inside what? Inside the cab? or inside the back of the front seat? It is absurd to take this as meaning 'inside the cab'. Of course the ballistic material is attached to the rest of the partition glazing, INSIDE the vehicle. So, they MUST mean 'inside the back of the front seats' backrest'. Chalk this up to another crackpot idea from the TLC.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Big Brother is here

The TLC is currently exploring the usefulness and feasibility of black box recording devices, which record driver behavior, as tools to reduce driving behaviors that lead to collisions.

• Can a passenger sit in the front seat of the taxicab if no room exists in the back seat?

"From Driver Rule 54-15(h) (in PDF):
The Taxi and Limousine Commission's (TLC) rules state that a passenger who is unable to enter or ride in the passenger part of the taxicab must be permitted to occupy the front seat alongside the driver."

Anyone claiming to be "unable" can ride in the front seat? How hard is it to defeat the partition? Claim you have a "knee problem" and demand to sit in the front.

That is dumber than the NYC TLC ban on conveying prostitutes.

Radical increase in taxi driver citations in NYC

From less than 1,000 monthly consumer complaint violations in Dec of 1012, to over 2,000 in Dec 2013 is a radical shift upwards.

73 consumer complaints in March of 2013 is a radical shift DOWNWARD. The trend has shown a significant decline in monthly consumer complaints since Dec 2012, to about 3-600 per month, from over 2,000.

What can account for the radical changes in the numbers of consumer complaints?

Why are substandard taxi partitions OK for Handicapped Accessible and Hybrid Taxis, but not for any other cabs?

The NYC TLC is in a puzzling position. While they posture themselves as guardians of taxi safety, they simultaneously admit that for 45 years they required, inspected and approved partitions which are now on the record as being the bane of taxi safety in collisions.

Now, since there have been crash tests conducted by Nissan, the only partitions allowed in the vast majority of NYC taxis are the ones that have been crash tested using anthropomorphic test dummies. The only partitions crash tested, using dummies, are the partitions designed by Nissan and the NYC TLC. This is a ploy to force all fleet owners to purchase only Nissan NV200's.

There are plenty of crash test results from using partitions in taxis. The doctors have testified to the TLC about the frequency and severity of injury resulting from collision contact with the taxi partition. Dr. Sherman explained that hundreds of taxi occupants have been injured. That is a gross understatement of the fact.

Here are some notes from the NYC TLC's own website;

Statement of Basis and Purpose

"Preparing a vehicle to serve as a taxi, or what is known in the industry as “hacking up”, includes
installing a TLC authorized partition. The partition, which is installed after the vehicle has been
manufactured, is neither designed by the auto manufacturer nor present when the vehicle
undergoes federally required safety testing. Installation of the partition can harm the vehicle’s
structural integrity, airbag deployment, and overall safety because it adds stiffness to the
vehicle’s frame which can affect how the vehicle performs during a side impact, exposing
passengers to an increased risk of head and face injuries."

"In June 2013, several medical professionals testified at a TLC hearing in favor of crash testing a
taxicab vehicle with the partition installed. Dr. John Sherman, M.D., F.A.C.S. testified that the
taxi partition has accounted for hundreds of injuries to passengers throughout the years.
Similarly, other physicians who have treated passengers in taxicab accidents noted that many of
the injuries they see are a result of the partition. Dr. Charles DiMaggio, PhD specifically
explained that safety testing with the partition installed would decrease the risk of passenger
head and face injuries because such testing would ensure that partitions are designed so that they
do not interfere with airbag deployment."

"To minimize injury to taxi passengers and drivers resulting from partitions when a vehicle is 
involved in an accident, the proposed rules require that the vehicles described below be crash 
tested by auto manufacturers with the TLC authorized partition installed. A limited exception is 
made for hybrid electric and accessible vehicles, allowing such vehicles to be hacked up as 
taxicabs until one hybrid electric and one accessible vehicle, respectively, are crash tested with a 
TLC authorized partition. Requiring crash testing with TLC authorized partitions ensures that all 
auto manufacturers looking to participate in the New York City taxi market are held to the same 
high safety standards." 
"In 2012, the TLC received over 100 passenger complaints about air quality, ventilation, odors, or 
temperature inside taxicabs. In some cases, the passenger complained that the driver refused to 
use or adjust the temperature or ventilation. At a City Council hearing on March 5, 2013, 
Council Member David Greenfield complained about the odor and lack of ventilation in some 
taxicabs and asked the Commission to address the issue. Giving passengers the ability to control 
the temperature and ventilation in the back of the taxicab addresses these concerns. The proposed 
rule also requires that vehicles with a crash-tested, TLC authorized partition have rear-controlled 
air conditioning."

"The proposed rule also:  Exempts hybrid electric vehicles from these requirements until a hybrid electric vehicle manufacturer has crash tested a hybrid electric vehicle with a TLC authorized partition
installed in the vehicle and the vehicle has passenger-controlled rear air conditioning,
after which all hybrid electric vehicles to be used as taxicabs must be crashed tested with
a TLC authorized partition installed in the vehicle and have passenger-controlled rear air

"Exempts accessible vehicles from this requirement until an accessible vehicle
manufacturer has crash tested an accessible vehicle with a TLC authorized partition
installed in the vehicle and the vehicle has passenger-controlled rear air conditioning,
after which all accessible vehicles to be used as taxicabs must be crashed tested with a
TLC authorized partition installed in the vehicle and have passenger-controlled rear air

Considering the following, taxi partition installation requirements should come to an immediate end. The scheme that is intended to corner the entire NYC taxi vehicle market, for Nissan and the TLC is not a simple one. By requiring only crash tested partitions, they are in fact requiring the Nissan NV200. It is the only one, so far, that has been crash tested. It should be noted that nobody has declared that the Nissan NV200 partition has actually PASSED a crash test yet.

The CDC in Atlanta recently declared that their study on partition use in taxis showed, that no fewer murders occurred in cities with partitions, than in those cities without partitions. Just the fact that murders occur at all... with partitions, is proof that it is folly to require allegedly bullet-resistant partitions. With additional losses associated with collision impact, partitions should be at most, a driver option. I suggest the TLC stay the course concerning compliance in partition design. 

I find it puzzling that the NYC TLC feels the sub-standard design that they have required for years is still OK for Hybrid and H/A taxis.