April 14, 2009
New York City's famous yellow cabs could soon host cell-phone-free zones.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission, which regulates and licenses the cab industry, may block drivers from using cell phones as part of a plan to improve passengers' experiences. The TLC also may add interactive games and allow passengers to download songs while riding in New York cabs. New York state prohibits the use of cell phones while driving, unless the driver uses a hands-free set. The TLC said that it's still a safety concern and an annoyance for cab drivers to talk on the phone. The TLC is considering the use of technology that would block cell phone signals in the front seat only, so passengers could continue to chat away. The TLC announced plans for possible use of technology to block the drivers' conversations Tuesday through a request for information for its next Taxicab Passenger Enhancement Program. "Recently, there has been emerging technology on the ability to block cell phone usage in vehicles," the document states. "The TLC would welcome comments on the advances in this area in order to prevent cell phone usage by drivers while not interfering with a passenger's ability to use a cell phone as well as the feasibility of implementing this type of technology as part of the T-PEP system." While the document indicates that cab drivers could use their phones during emergencies, it's unclear exactly how the cell phone-blocking technology would operate to respond to emergencies. Drivers and riders can provide feedback on the plan through the TLC's Web site.
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