New York, NY - Aggressive Tactics by Undercover Agents Against Taxis Using Any Electronics
New York, NY - A crack undercover group of Taxi and Limousine Commission agents are the muscle behind the new, super-strict laws banning cabbies from using any electronics while driving.
During a ride-along and stakeout the agents nailed three hacks who couldn’t seem to get the message that their days of gabbing while driving were over.
Positioned outside Grand Central Terminal at 42nd Street and Park Avenue—a hot spot of yakking drivers who wait for people to emerge from the station, the team stood near an intersection and checked cabs as they rode by. Other times, the agents got in a cab and pretended to be regular riders, watching for illegal activity.
By yesterday morning, a total of 142 summonses had been issued by TLC agents. The NYPD, which also is enforcing the new laws, yesterday said it hadn’t compiled its numbers yet.
Busted drivers immediately bemoaned the aggressive tactics.
“I’m not even using a cellphone! It’s an iPod!” wailed Inderjit Parihar, 29, who’s been driving for six years.
But the new laws forbid drivers from using any electronic device, even music players and GPS locators.
“They just want to bother us. I wasn’t even playing it,” Parihar went on, as he was issued a summons for $200 and a “refresher course” on the new rules.
Another violation will carry a similar fine and suspend his license. On his third strike, he’s out: His license is revoked.
Parihar said he knows a lot of cabbies who are hanging up their phones because they know the enforcement teams are doling out strict penalties.
“They’re not going to use the cells because it’s not worth losing your job,” he said.
A total of 13 drivers were hit with summonses Friday. TLC officials said they tried to warn the drivers before the crackdown began by handing out tens of thousands of fliers.
“We didn’t want to hammer the drivers. We wanted to go out in front of it and warn them. It’s not about money or numbers,” said TLC chief Matt Daus.
The agents—who remain anonymous—have to learn the tricks of the trade, too.
Some drivers are using the chilly weather as cover for hiding their hands-free devices, which are also banned under the new rules.
One hack was foiled trying to cover his hands-free device with a winter hat, sources said.
The agents saw the wire dangling from the driver’s ear, and he was promptly pulled over.
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