By Jennifer R Jones | Posted on August 06, 2009 3:23 PM
If you rode in a New York City yellow taxicab recently, chances are the driver was yapping away on their Bluetooth earpiece or even on a handheld cell phone. Cabbies have actually been banned from using cell phones for a decade, even hands-free devices, a rule widely ignored and unenforced. Research shows drivers who use cell phones and hands-free devices while driving are four times as likely to cause an accident. Yet in New York City, the sight of a taxi driver using a cell phone is as common as jaywalking, which is also heavily overlooked. It is a constant battle for New York City authorities as they struggle to find effective ways to handle the problem other than having passengers report cell phone abuse when they see it. It can be intimidating for passengers to ask cabbies absorbed in their conversation to not talk on the phone while driving. During the first six months of 2009, authorities issued just 232 summonses for cell phone use in taxicabs. For the first six months of 2008, 411 summonses were issued. Drivers who are caught violating must pay a $200 fine. Surprisingly, New York City is one of the stricter cities in the country for their no cell phone rule for cabbies. The same restrictions apply in Boston, while hands-free devices are permitted in Los Angeles, and cell phones are used in Denver and Miami.