Enzo Titolo

Politics, Paranoispiricies, neologisms, diary, creative, ruminations

Monday, January 30, 2006

Ban Cabbabble and Cell Phone conversation while driving in NYC

An open letter to ban 'cabbabble' and cell phone conversation while driving in NYC

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
City Hall
New York NY 10007

To Mayor Bloomberg:

Re: Drivers and Taxi Drivers’ Incessant Cell phone Chatter

On Saturday night I again experienced consistently bad taxi service due to my drivers' abuse of cell phone talking, 'cabbabbling,' instead of driving safely, courteously, efficiently, and with accuracy. This is part of a general threat that means that cell phone conversations while driving in NYC must be banned.

On my first ride, the driver's use of the cell phone limited him from telling me that he didn't understand our destination, "Montrose Ave," even though I had printed directions and offered to give him directions from Manhattan. Cell phone use furthered distracted him from looking for the street name. It was as if he had tunnel vision, causing us to miss the turn, necessitating us to double back since he missed the street turn. He didn't even tell us that he wasn't even looking for the street the first time. Meanwhile the meter kept running an extra five dollars and he cost me ten minutes of travel time, instead of going out on a Saturday night.

On my return trip the driver didn't allow me to offer him directions while we were leaving the bridge, since he was so focused on his phone conversation, causing him to miss the best routes to my destination twice, again causing me to spend more money and time in the cab to serve his cell phone conversations.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine since 2/1997:
"when a phone was used while driving, the risk of a collision was between 3 and 6.5 times higher than when a phone was not used. It also concluded that the relative risk was similar to that of driving with a blood-alcohol level at the legal limit, and that cell phones that allowed hands-free operation offered no safety advantage."


These are my 3 concerns with cell phone abuse while taxi driving:

1. Safety.
Cell phone use impairs drivers by distracting them and limiting their peripheral vision. It also limits their ability to communicate with passengers, which further compromises safety. Having a hands-free set does little to address these safety issues.

2. Impaired Communications.

Limiting communication between the driver and passenger causes drivers to miss destinations more often, driving up meter costs and wasting passengers' time.

Cab drivers hurry through the destination-communication stage at the beginning of the cab ride to quickly return to their ‘interrupted’ private conversations. Their ongoing conversations impair driver and passenger from productively communicating about the route throughout the service experience.

I take cabs, which are already costly, to save time. It is irksome to pay more time and money in a cab to serve the driver's convenience.

3. This leads to the third point: customer service experience degradation.

In short, riding in a cab is no longer fun with the omni prevalence of 'cabbabbling.'

When a customer goes into a cab while a conversation is going on the customer feels that he is interrupting a private space, the driver's space. The cab is no longer the customer's rented private transportation environment. The customer may feel he is interrupting by suggesting a block in advance to turn the next corner for a better route. If my boss were to walk by my desk while I was on a cell phone, I would get off the phone.

It has been documented that the drivers sometimes gossip and complain about their customers, which exacerbates drivers' resentment of customers, encouraging an 'us versus them' mentality among the drivers during the service experience.

Sometimes this 'cabbabble' is so loud that it interrupts passengers' conversations, the passenger's reading, or desire for a silent meditative ride. Instead of the driver paying attention to the customer's needs, the driver is ignoring the customer, but the customer is forced to pay attention to the driver's incessant 'cabbabbling' in case the driver has a question for the customer.

The TLC should limit cell phone use among cab drivers for brief (under two minute) calls (commencing after the destination and route is ascertained), limited to service-related questions such as asking their base or colleagues for directions or traffic conditions, or for an emergency. Other non-work related uses of cell phones should be banned.

While we are on the topic of cell phones and driving, I am more often a pedestrian and a bicyclist, and my safety on the streets is compromised by chattering drivers to whom the busy trafficscape is like a mediated (video-like) environment, causing people to dodge from them in cross walks and corners while they speed through lights or turns, while their attention and peripheral vision is impaired by their conversations. New York City is one of the nation’s most intense driving environments, so we must ban cell phone use among drivers in this city. How many more pedestrians and bicyclists are dying or maimed for the convenience of driver’s cell phone chatter?


Enzo Titolo

Cc: City Councilperson Rosie Mendez, by copy to the Councilperson, please introduce legislation.


Post a Comment

<< Home

FAIR USE NOTICE:: This site contains images and excerpts the use of which have not been pre-authorized. This material is made available for the purpose of analysis and critique, as well as to advance the understanding of political, media and cultural issues. The 'fair use' of such material is provided for under U.S. Copyright Law. In accordance with U.S. Code Title 17, Section 107, material on this site (along with credit links and attributions to original sources) is viewable for educational and intellectual purposes. If you are interested in using any copyrighted material from this site for any reason that goes beyond 'fair use,' you must first obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.