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

by Prince Of Petworth June 10, 2011 at 10:30 am 43 Comments

“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

and

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.

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