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The Blog Gets Action: Cabbies, Get Off the Phone!

Last month right here on the big blog, a lot of you vented about the annoying habit many taxi drivers have of yammering away on the cell phone throughout your ride in their cab. We learned that some cities around the country are trying to force cabbies off their phones, at least while a passenger is in the vehicle.

No such effort is underway in the District, but now, thanks to the outcry here on Raw Fisher, the company that dominates the taxi industry in Montgomery County is setting out some new rules for its drivers:

"Paying customers want drivers to pay attention to them and the road instead of talking on the phone. No one should be talking on their cell phones while they're driving. It's distracting, and in a paid transportation situation, it's rude. .... There is no need for a taxicab driver to take or return a cell phone call until after a trip has been completed.... Taxi drivers, like other citizens, can put the phone on vibrate and check it after the passenger has exited the vehicle."

Barwood Cab's memo to its drivers is a definite step in the right direction, though it obviously lacks the teeth of a government regulation. In the weeks to come, if you see MoCo cabbies conforming to their company's rule--or if you don't--let me know, and I'll try to pursue the matter here.

By Marc Fisher |  February 20, 2006; 7:20 AM ET
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So you're off the "entertaining old guy" bandwagon? If so, glad to hear it, as I thought Schaeffer should go after the "Mickey D translation" incident (which if I recall correctly, there was evidence he'd made the whole thing up.)

The guy's an embarrassing dinosaur, more interested in getting attention than working for the citizen of Maryland. Maybe he and Barry can get spots next to each other in the politician's retirement home and talk about the "good old days."

Posted by: ML | February 20, 2006 12:59 PM

It is a testament to how weak the law against cell phone use while driving is here in DC that the company can tell the taxi drivers just to wait until they're between customers before making their phone calls. With no education, and no enforcement, taxi drivers and regular drivers alike are continuing to gab away as if the law simply did not exist.Thanks to the misplaced priorities of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it might as well not exist.

Imagine taxi companies telling their drivers to wait until they're between customers before taking a drink of beer.
For more information, and outrage, visit

Posted by: lisa lewis | February 20, 2006 4:25 PM

I thought that the way to put an end to this is for customers to complain directly to the drivers, withholding tips from drivers who ignore their requests.

Another "government regulation"? What good would that do? Any "teeth" that a government regulation has are false. DC won't even enforce the laws it has on the books now against talking on a cell phone while driving.

Posted by: Kalorama Kat | February 22, 2006 2:33 PM

This is another sad reminder that DC has the worst cabs in the nation. I take cabs regularly, and more often than not the cab I get is a death trap, with no shocks, filthy seats, sqealing brakes, etc. Quite often the drivers have no idea where anything in the city is, they apparently don't own maps, and often they speak little English. Then, they yammer away on their cell phones.

It costs me $9 to go from my house on the Hill to anywhere downtown. Often I'm only going about ten blocks. That's more than a similar trip would cost me in a lot of cities.

It's high time we got some actual cab regulation in DC. Require that in, say, three years all DC cabs can be no older than five years old, that they must meet minimum safety standards, that cabbies can't talk on the cell phone unless it's an emergency, and require actual cabbie training.

In London they study for years before being given a cab license.

It's high time we did something similar.

Posted by: Hillman | February 23, 2006 10:44 AM

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