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After hailing a cab, do you buckle-up?

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Throughout New York City, taxi cabs are plentiful and millions of residents and tourists alike rely upon cabs to get to work and around the city. While driving or a front seat passenger in a car, most people in New York City likely buckle-up automatically. However information released last year from the New York City Taxi Commission reveals that “only 38 percent of cab riders,” buckle-up upon hailing a taxi.

This statistic is alarming considering that the Department of Transportation notes that drivers and passengers who fail to wear seat belts are “30 times more likely to be ejected” from a vehicle and 75 percent of vehicle occupants who are ejected, die from their injuries.

So why do so many taxi customers fail to buckle-up in a cab? While New York’s occupant restraint law requires that everyone in a car either wear a seat belt or, in the case of children, a proper restraint system, the law’s provisions don’t apply to taxis or their drivers. In fact, legally neither taxi drivers nor front or back seat passengers are required to wear seat belts. However, if Mayor Bill de Blasio has his way, this may soon change.

As part of the city’s new Vision Zero plan, the Mayor wants to pass a law mandating that drivers and front seat passengers in taxi, as well as all passengers under the age of 16, wear seat belts. If enacted, fines for cab drivers and passengers who fail to buckle-up would range from $20 to $100.

Front or back seat passengers who fail to wear seat belts are at a much greater risk of suffering painful, serious injuries if involved in a crash or collision. If not bucked-up, even seemingly minor accidents can result in non-seat belt wearing vehicle occupants suffering debilitating head, neck and spine injuries.

Source: CBS News, “Deadly trend among backseat passengers,” June 24, 2015

New York Daily News, “EXCLUSIVE: NYC wants to impose seat belt law for taxi riders under Vision Zero plan,” Dale Eisinger, Pete Donohue, April 21, 2015

Jason Fuiman

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Co-Managing Partner and Chair of O'Dwyer & Bernstien's Labor & Employee Benefits practice, Jason has over twenty years of experience in the New York legal industry.