Computer Glitch Left 4,500 Dangerous Cabbies on the Road
MANHATTAN — About 4,500 of the city's most dangerous cabbies are still cruising streets because the Taxi & Limousine Commission failed to suspend or revoke their licenses due to a computer glitch, its chief admitted.
In an internal review of their system, prompted by a Midtown accident in which British tourist Sian Green, 23, lost her leg, the agency found that over the last four years it had failed to flag 3,900 drivers who had earned more than six violation points on their license within a 15-month period.
Another 600 drivers with 10 points or more for the same time period were also missed, TLC Commissioner David Yassky said.
There are about 110,000 TLC licensed drivers in the city, he said.
"The method we had set up was pretty clunky," Yassky said.
Under the old system, the agency received hack violation data from a state Department of Motor Vehicles spreadsheet. But some of the offender's names were accidentally dropped when imported into the TLC's own computer system.
Mohammad Fisal Himon, 24, the taxi driver whose cab severed Green's leg, had seven points on his license and should not have been behind the wheel at the time of the Aug. 20 crash. Three days later, he surrendered his license for 30 days.
Himon has blamed bicyclist Kenneth Olivo for the accident. He said Olivo banged on the hood of the cab, scaring him and causing him to lose control. Neither man has been charged with a crime and an investigation is ongoing.
Green, speaking publicly for the first time on NBC's "Today" show Tuesday, said she heard the pair fighting before the cab hit her.
The TLC plans to send letters this week informing offending drivers still on the road that they could have their license yanked temporarily or permanently depending on how many violations they have racked up, Yassky said.
He said that half of each group is made up of cabbies and half limousine drivers.
An agency spokesman said the TLC would allow drivers with less than 10 points — stemming from infractions that occurred more than a year ago — to plead guilty and pay a $100 fine to avoid suspension.
Drivers with newer violations would have to pay $1,000 or face 30 days without a license.
Drivers with 10 points or more would be taken off the road, TLC spokesman Allan Fromberg said.
Yassky, who has told staffers he's stepping down to let the incoming mayor appoint a new commissioner, also said the DMV will now import its data "seamlessly" into the TLC system.
"Our top responsibility is passenger safety and part of ensuring passenger safety is to ensure that those who have unsafe records are penalized or taken off the road," he said.