New Rules Could Stop Cabbies From Using Cell Phones

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Do distracted drivers worry you? How about distracted cab drivers? The Minneapolis City Council is looking at new rules to keep drivers from using their cell phones. But the question is when? Even though they support the rules, some drivers are worried about the wording.

“It makes some passengers nervous,” said Yemane Mebrahtu of the Minneapolis Taxicab Drivers and Owners Association. “They don’t like you to use the phone, and also it can cause an accident; can get distracted.”

So, most local cab companies already ban cell phone use while driving passengers. The association readily agreed to a ban, but was surprised when a subcommittee passed wording that also seems to ban them when passengers aren’t onboard.

“We would like to have the taxi drivers to use limited (cell) phones because that’s the only time they can … be able to communicate with their family members when they don’t have passengers,” said Mebrahtu.

“I think we should ban cell phone use when a driver has a customer in the cab,” said City Councilmember Gary Schiff. “When they don’t have a customer in the cab, I don’t think we should be as concerned until the State of Minnesota acts uniformly against all drivers.”

The Taxicab Drivers and Owners Association hopes to get that wording changed before it comes up for a full council vote, which is a week from Friday. A separate proposal requiring cabs to take credit cards will take more time to pass. It was tabled until January.

“We’re going to take some more time to look at that,” said Schiff, who sponsored the proposal, “because I want to make sure that the cab driver isn’t bearing the brunt of the fees that banks are charging for credit cards.”

Any rules that pass a week from Friday would go into effect by the end of December.

More from Frank Vascellaro
  • Sally

    We use ITN, flat quoted rate, no run around the city, professional, on tiime, not dirty, all good! Would not even consider another service anymore.

  • TL the alligator

    as far as cab companies go……DO NOT EVER use rainbow cab, 3 times in a row at 3 different locations they failed to show up presumably because it was a smaller fare…..3 TIMES…….not even a courtesy call was given in any of the instances…….3 strikes and they are out, i’ll NEVER use them again, i only used them because their headquarters is only a few blocks away.

  • Todd

    Taxi cabs are commercial vehicles. By law they are buses. Be responsible or find a new profession. You DO NOT NEED A CELL PHONE to do your job while driving. There is no excuse for cell phone operation while driving. Pull over and make your call.

  • The REAL, real Jake

    I’m more concerned about all the cops with their noses buried in their computer screens and typing while driving around as well as talking on their cell phones. don’t they have enough with their radio?

    • retphxfire

      I find it disturbing that cops are using their computer and cell phones, but let’s not forget they also are not wearing THEIR seatbelts or using THEIR turn signals. Then they are pulling people over for the same violations. Irks

  • Peter Malm

    When I see the driver using the cellphone, I waved at driver an hand gestures “Phone Down!” and “Eye on traffic camera!” (it’s hidden cams). I am on the power wheelchair, when I get a message alert and simply stop wheeling and take a messages. True, the police should be stop at the traffic lights or pull over while checking the patrol computer.

  • Stephanie Mauser

    if the cab is on the street and in motion, no cel phone use, simple. none of the rest of us get to call our families or what have you while we’re at work. if we wish to do so, we do it on break and/or lunch, or are we expected to believe that the cabbies are forever in motion and don’t take breaks to eat and stuff? i don’t see why this should even be up for discussion. if you’re driving and on the phone, you’re distracted, whether you’re the only one in the car or whether you have a passenger, whether you’re a cabbie or a soccer mom. as if somehow cabbies are immune to distraction?

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