Seatbelts in taxis
June 24, 2005 9:29 AM   Subscribe

Do taxi drivers have some sort of unspoken agreement with the police about seatbelts?

I rarely see any cab drivers wearing seatbelts. In this day of increased check-stops (in my experience anyway), how do they get away with it? The police must know that if they just stopped taxis all day, they'd rack up the seatbelt tickets. Is there some sort of uneasy alliance here or do the police just not care?
posted by ODiV to Law & Government (14 answers total)
Googling randomly, I find Massachussetts state law:

No person shall operate a private passenger motor vehicle or ride in a private passenger motor vehicle ... unless such person is wearing a safety belt ... this provision shall not apply to:

(e) anyone involved in the operation of taxis, liveries, tractors, trucks with gross weight of eighteen thousand pounds or over, buses, and passengers of authorized emergency vehicles.

I guess if you get technical about it, a taxi driver would be exempt even in his own car.
posted by rolypolyman at 9:39 AM on June 24, 2005

besides---for once the police are using common sense. there is absolutely nothing gained in stopping every taxi driver who doesn't wear a seatbelt. it's excessive and no longer protecting the people, just exercising the law.

i say 'no longer' as if they ever did :P

woo! editorialising in mefi comments. don't get better than that.
posted by Lockeownzj00 at 9:45 AM on June 24, 2005

In many states Taxi cabs are exempt from seatbelt laws, just as city buses and touring buses are. I'm not entirely sure what the logic is behind the exemption, though, it may be as simple as tradition. Recently, some states like Oregon are moving to require taxi drivers and passengers to wear seatbelts.
posted by elwoodwiles at 9:47 AM on June 24, 2005

Cabs are explicitly exempt from New York State seat-belt laws. Also, for passengers aged 16 and up, the seat-belt law only applies in the front seat. Passengers under the age of 16 must be restrained. More information is available in the New York State DMV FAQ.
posted by TPIRman at 9:48 AM on June 24, 2005

One cabbie claimed the reason was so he could more quickly chase down someone who didn't pay their fare.
posted by RobotHero at 10:00 AM on June 24, 2005

How do babies ride in taxis?
posted by rolypolyman at 10:01 AM on June 24, 2005

In the UK, taxi drivers are exempt because of the possible threat to their safety from dangerous passengers.
posted by punilux at 10:09 AM on June 24, 2005

I should clarify -- the regulations for age 16 + up in front seat, restrain the kiddies, etc. apply to private vehicles.

Taxis and other cars-for-hire are exempt from all NYC seat-belt regulations. Sorry for not being clearer about that in my earlier answer.
posted by TPIRman at 10:19 AM on June 24, 2005

As an added note, if police are doing spot checks for anything - speed, drunk drivers, seat belts, red lights, stop signs, whatever - or if there are any significant traffic problems, taxi drivers are the first to know. They're all connected to the dispatcher who keeps them up to date on that sort of thing, and the dispatchers from different companies share that sort of information, as well. So if there was a seat belt crackdown on, and it applied to cabbies, they'd wear them for that day and then forget about them again.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:06 AM on June 24, 2005

And an additional added note, is that I just checked Ontario's laws and taxi drivers are exempt from seat belt laws as a protection from dangerous passengers. Taxi passengers, on the other hand, are not, and you can be fined for failing to wear yours.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:11 AM on June 24, 2005

Weird. It hadn't even occured to me that taxi drivers would be exempt. I feel like an idiot for not considering that (hence the phrasing of the question and the lack of googling).

Still, it seems weird that they're exempt. I guess it's just been drilled into my head that seatbelts are necessary no matter what the distance or speed.
posted by ODiV at 11:41 AM on June 24, 2005

The reason that Oregon is starting to require taxi drivers and passengers to use seatbelts is that many of the cabs here (few and far between anyway) are minivans, which have a bad habit of ejecting their passengers... as a famous figure skater who lost her mother to an accident with a cab earlier this year found out.
posted by SpecialK at 12:09 PM on June 24, 2005

Data point: I was a passenger in a taxi in Indianapolis that was pulled over for running a red light about a year ago. The driver was also cited for not wearing a seat belt. So drivers aren't exempt here.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:56 PM on June 24, 2005

Having asked about the relationship of Taxi Drivers and Police Officers of a once taxi driver in my town, the answer basically was that since taxi drivers also drive around the worst parts of town all day just like the police, most taxi drivers often phone in about plenty of crimes they witness or turn in crooks they see. So the police are happy to let them off with plenty of non-serious stuff (speeding, not using their lights, seatbelts, whatever) because they help the police out so much in return.

Besides, at least here, only police stations and taxi companies are allowed to buy the used police cars.
posted by shepd at 4:30 PM on June 24, 2005

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