Dear PoP – “reckless driving” is not a violation of the [Taxi] Commission’s rules?

“Dear PoP,

I thought you might be interested in my exchange with the DC Taxi Commission regarding a reckless driving incident. Per the Commission, reckless driving by a taxi is not a sanctionable infraction. I am a daily bike commuter, who rides down 11th from Otis every day to work, but taxis’ lack of regard for proper driving standards are a danger for bikers and pedestrian a like. The response from the MPD was “Please raise you complaint with the Taxi Commission”. Seems there is a loophole in reckless driving enforcement for those that are most guilty.”

The following exchange is a bit of a head scratcher:

Good Afternoon,

This will acknowledge receipt of your letter alleging that, the driver of H95628 committed the following act: reckless driving.

While the District of Columbia Taxicab Commission (“Commission”) is deeply concerned about drivers who fail to conduct themselves in an orderly manner or who pose a risk to public safety because of erratic or unsafe acts while operating their vehicle, we can only take disciplinary action against a driver for conduct that is in violation of the rules set forth in Title 31 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (“Taxicabs and Public Vehicles for Hire”). Unfortunately, the conduct that you describe does not constitute a violation of those rules.

You should know that we are in the process of developing a partnership with the Metropolitan Police Department which will allow us to handle complaints that involve traffic offenses.

We will, however, keep a record of this complaint and a copy of the driver’s response, if any, in his file and it will be reviewed along with any other complaints involving this driver and will be taken into consideration in advance of any request by the driver to renew or extend his privilege to operate a taxicab in the District of Columbia.

Thank you for taking the time to contact us about this incident. Your continued vigilance provides us with invaluable assistance as we strive to improve the standards associated with driver training and customer service

DC Taxicab Commission


Thank you for your response. To be clear, you are stating that “reckless driving” is not a violation of the Commission’s rules? I read Title 31 and it appears to be a framework law setting out the requirements and paramaters for establishing and governing the Commission. It DOES NOT specify rules of the road for taxi drivers. These should the same for all drivers, i.e. the DMV’s regulations. Para 701.8 states a complaint must comprise a violation of the “Commission’s Rules and Regulations”. These are not defined in Title 31 so please sent them to me. I would amazed if “reckless driving” is omitted, and if it is the loop-hole should be closed.
However, para 1013.2 states that complaints can consist of “violations of the Commission’s regulations” OR “violations of the Department of Motor Vehicles’ regulations”, which would include a prohibition against reckless driving. This section would lead me to believe that reckless driving is a violation of Title 31 directly.

In short, either the Commission or the Metropolitan Police Department needs to enforce safe driving practices by taxis. Please respond in detail as I will not let this matter drop. DC taxis tend to be a hazard to DC residents, especially bikers: they do not use signals, they drive while on the phone, they do not pull over but stop where it pleases them, they do not respect bike lanes, etc.

43 Comment

  • I can see why the OP is upset, but the issue is that the OP contacted the wrong authority. The DC Taxi Commission does not deal with traffic violations of any vehicle, taxi or not. The DC Taxi Commission regulates taxi cabs and makes sure their drivers and taxi cabs are licenced.

    The DC Taxi Commission can not hand out reckless driving fines, so yes, reckless driving is not part of the Commission’s Rules and Regulations. Those are taken care of by the DC police department.

    It seems like the DC Taxi Commission was actually helpful here, since they added a letter to the driver’s file in lieu of the fact that they can’t hand out driving violations.

    OP – report a reckless driver to the DC MPD.

    • me

      In the post, it says DC MPD was contacted and said to raise the issue with the taxicab commission. See the first paragraph.

    • Agree- OP was kinda rude to what appeared to be a trying-to-be responsive taxicab commission. I’d say MPD is dopping the ball here, as they’re the ones who can write tickets for traffic infractions.

      The OP is basically demanding that the taxicab commission write a ticket for an offense they aren’t legally allowed to investigate.

      In addition to being rude, the OP is wrong- Title 31 *is* the correct section of DCMR regulating cabs. The list of violations can be found in 31 DCMR, chapter 8:

      I think the OP needs to cool down, call MPD next time (especially while it’s occurring), and send the taxicab commission an apology.

      • Do people seriously not read before posting? RTFA.

        ‘The response from the MPD was “Please raise you complaint with the Taxi Commission”.’

        • I did RTFA. All of my points are still valic.

          I do have an amendment: The “reckless driving” may fall under the following part of 31 DCMR, but I imagine the complaint would need to fully articulate the violation, and not just say “he was being reckless and stuff”:

          822.9 The operation of taxicabs shall be conducted in accordance with the laws of the District and with due regard for the safety, comfort and convenience of passengers, for the safe and careful transportation of property, and for the safety of the general public. All reasonable efforts shall be made to promote safety at all times and under all conditions.

      • The OP’s response to the taxi commission was not at all rude. Not in any way, shape, or form. It was simply asking for clarification on a rather strange loophole in the rules. Point out what you think was rude.

  • OP – Thanks for following up with this. Please post updates.

    If there are any MPD reading this – is this really the case and do you guys ever discuss internally the fairly large portion of traffic woes created by taxis? Are the commanders aware of how much trouble taxi drivers cause for everyday citizens who have to/like to use the roads?

    If not, what can citizens do to bring it into discussion?

    • If not, what can citizens do to bring it into discussion?

      Stop voting for a City Council that is in the pockets of the mostly Silver Spring dwelling cabbies?

  • I would argue that bikers are more dangerous than most vehicles on the roads. There are some crazy drivers out there but when is the last time you saw a biker obey ANY traffic law in DC?

    • you could argue, but you would be wrong. how many people have been killed by bikes? how about njured. not as many as cars.

      • I would say Bikers are a threat to themselves more than anything.

        Car, bike, or pedestrian; people generally don’t act with safety as a priority. However, if I’m in my car and I hit another car because they stop short or they cut me off or something, it probably won’t be a big deal, that’s what insurance is for. If I hit a biker because he doesn’t think traffic laws apply to him, he’s much more likely to be seriously injured or die, and we both have to live with that for the rest of our lives.

        What’s frustrating about bikers is that they don’t seem to care about their own safety. It seems like they feel entitled to behave as they please and it’s the car’s responsibility to make sure they don’t get hit.

    • Aaaaaaand, we’re off!

    • I drove to work this morning, and I counted 30 cyclists on my short commute, and 29 of them were following all traffic laws that I could see. The only one I saw violate them did a rolling right on red, hardly an insane move.

      Meanwhile, as for cars: I saw three illegal U-turns, 2 blown red lights, and 1 pedestrian almost killed by someone on a phone turning right.

      I am pro-car, but come on. Bicycles are not the threat on the roads.

    • You’re an idiot.

    • @muacc: see “Tu quoque.”

  • This is quite obviously a good example of MPD being lazy. Nobody should be surprised.

    • Agreed – the OP should pursue this further with the MPD until they admit that it falls under their juridcition and do something about it.

  • I actually kind of like taxis because I can spot them from far off and I know they’re trouble. Easier to deal with than DC’s insane civilian drivers, since at least you know what you’re getting.

    Just remember the rules of DC taxis:
    -They always drive five miles slower than everyone else
    -They will never signal
    -They change lanes at random
    -They do not pull over or yield to pedestrians or bikes
    -If you are following one down a narrow one-way, it will stop and wait for 10 minutes to pick someone up

    • you forgot stopping at yellow lights.

      Also, 5mph under the speed limit would be considered speeding for most cabs.

      • austindc

        I think you’re supposed to stop at yellow lights unless it is unsafe to do so (e.g., you are already part way through the intersection).

  • I would personally like to know what reckless driving infraction they actually committed…We only see the response letter here, but do we actually know if the cab broke any rules (speeding, running lights), or was he/she just driving in a way that made the occupant/bike rider uncomfortable? Was the OP following biking rules? Did the cab actually do anything to harm/almost harm the OP? I am a biker myself and am definitely annoyed/cautious of cab drivers, but unless you can specifically point out something that warrants a ‘crime’, I wouldn’t imagine the authorities doing anything about it.

    • This is the crux of this whole thing. What if I call MPD and tell them that I just saw a car committing a traffic infraction. “Sir, I just saw a Toyota Corolla going 40 in a 25!” They’d laugh at me, obviously. This is the identical scenario. It’s a traffic violation reported by a citizen. If there’s not a cop to see it, and there’s not a traffic accident, it might as well not have happened. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the MPD blew the OP off. Should they really have investigated?

      • Not speaking for the OP, I don’t know what happened, but I’m pretty sure “reckless driving” is more than a traffic infraction. Certainly not the same as speeding.

        • I don’t know what the OP saw or what the legal standards are, but I think the point is the same: if I call MPD and say I just saw a cab driver driving recklessly, unless there is damaged property (or people) or a smoking wreck of a taxi somewhere, what exactly are they supposed to do if no officer saw it?

      • You and GDopplerXT are right. If there’s a smoking wreck, damaged property, or injury, we can canvas for a cab, but if we don’t see the cab we’re not taking a reckless driving report for that because there’s almost no way in hell outside of said destruction/injury that we can sustain probable cause. Moreover, I’m not burning calories canvasing for someone who saw a cab driver driving like an asshole because I’ve got radio runs to handle and reports to write.

  • I feel like there are important details missing. Did MPD say they couldn’t press reckless driving charges? If so, why? I could understand if they wouldn’t write somebody up for reckless driving based only on another person’s say-so.

    In that case, the only recourse might be filing a complaint with the taxi commission, as they suggested. And even then, why would the taxi commission sanction a driver who has not been shown to have broken any rules of the road.

    I don’t doubt the OP’s story and I share the frustration with (some) taxi drivers (I would be just fine with it if taxis were banned from DC), but I’m not sure what MPD or the taxi commission can really do based solely on one person’s allegation. Unless there’s more to the story.

  • It’s not just that the MPD ignores cabs that drive badly. I think they ignore all traffic violations. I routinely see cars breaking traffic laws, often right in front of police cars, and I’ve never seen anyone pulled over.

  • Ive definitely seen more cabs pulled over and cited than I’ve seen bikes.

    I’d say the bikes get off pretty easily, until some nut job with a chip on their shoulder comes along.

    I also think that cabs and bikes have an equally poor compliance with the law. There are a few good ones here and there but the vast majority act like the rules dont apply.

  • I’m with others: I’m curious as to what behavior the OP observed and what (if any) proof he has of this behavior. I have seen enough drivers (cab drivers and others disregard traffic laws that I am inclined to believe the OP, but what are the police and the taxicab commission supposed to do if there is no proof?

    Additionally, the commission did not state that reckless driving is not a violation of the rules. They stated that the OP was alleging what he called reckless driving but that what the OP was alleging did not violate the rules. Perhaps it does not qualify as reckless driving under their definition.

  • Interesting response from the MPD. I have called the MPD precinct to request more/better enforcement of blocked bike lanes near DCUSA. I was told by the policewoman on the phone that this was a parking violation, not a moving violation, thus it was not the responsibility of the MPD. I then brought up the point that most people blocking the bike lane are still in their cars, thus this is a moving violation. The policewoman responded by saying she would look into the matter.

  • i’d be curious where the alleged offense occurred. i bike from the same location more or less each day (i’m a rule-following biker, btw). i hardly ever encounter cabs on 11th. when i do, they’re not so bad. the real pain-in-the-ass on 11th north of florida is carlos rosario. great for the community in general, but the long stream of idling drop cars dropping folks off in the bike lane and then pulling out without too much concern for anything is a real danger. the loading van at the bakery south of kenyon blocks things, too, but the aromas make up for it. and it doesn’t pull out and do crazy stuff.

  • Again, here’s my plea to each and every one of you to boycott taxis. There are too many of them in the city and they drive like crap. Nothing against the individual drivers but there is too much competition and not enough driver education.

  • This is the OP. I’d like to respond to some of the comments.

    The offense was failing to use a signal and changing lanes without checking the mirror, and almost running me over. That’s pretty standard for taxis and MD drivers, but when I asked him to use his signal, he became irrate and conducted a close and dangerous passing manuever before the next red light, instead of just letting it rest. It was at this point that I took a picture of his cab and talked to witnesses. Please see initiation email below.

    I have an indepedent witness.

    I don’t expect the MDP to issue a citation ex ante but I do expect them to be concerned that the Commission would not suspend a taxi driver that they admitted driving in a reckless manner.

    This incident occured at Q and New Hampshire street NW.

    Tue, May 17, 2011 at 7:58 AM
    subjectdangerous cab driver should be suspended

    hide details May 17

    Dear Sir/Madam,
    DC Taxicab Commission

    Yesterday, May 15 at about 7:15 pm, I was biking home from work on New Hamshire avenue NW in the bike lane. As I approached S street, a taxi cab suddenly entered the bikelane without signalling or checking the lane in an apparent attempy to turn right. Unfortunately, the cab almost hit me and I had to slam on my brakes. As I approached the intersection, I suggested that the cab driver use his signals and check for other traffic before changing lanes. He became verbally abusive and finally exited his cab and threatened me and the other bikers who were waiting for the light to change. There were heated exchanges but I and the other bikers continued on our way when the light changed. However, instead of turning right the taxi accelerated quickly and performed a rapid and close passing manuever of me in an attempt to create fear, partly using the bike lane and forcing me to swurve for the second time. He met a second red light at the next intersection (Swan street) and I stopped to take the attached picture. The taxi cab is a dark Nissan Pathfinder with DC plate number H95628 and taxi cab number 796.

    This driver should be removed from behind the wheel before he kills someone or at least receive driving training.

  • I got clipped by a DC cab once and the driver didn’t even stop. Little did he realize that I would catch up to him further up the road.

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