Partition Crash Testing and Air Conditioning Rules
Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments
Statement of Basis and Purpose of Proposed Rule
Preparing a vehicle to serve as a taxi, or what is known in the industry as “hacking up”, includes installing a TLC authorized partition. The partition, which is installed after the vehicle has been manufactured, is neither designed by the auto manufacturer nor present when the vehicle undergoes federally required safety testing. Installation of the partition can harm the vehicle’s structural integrity, airbag deployment, and overall safety because it adds stiffness to the vehicle’s frame which can affect how the vehicle performs during a side impact, exposing passengers to an increased risk of head and face injuries.
In June 2013, several medical professionals testified at a TLC hearing in favor of crash testing a taxicab vehicle with the partition installed. Dr. John Sherman, M.D., F.A.C.S. testified that the taxi partition has accounted for hundreds of injuries to passengers throughout the years. Similarly, other physicians who have treated passengers in taxicab accidents noted that many of the injuries they see are a result of the partition. Dr. Charles DiMaggio, PhD specifically explained that safety testing with the partition installed would decrease the risk of passenger head and face injuries because such testing would ensure that partitions are designed so that they do not interfere with airbag deployment.
To minimize injury to taxi passengers and drivers resulting from partitions when a vehicle is involved in an accident, the proposed rules require that the vehicles described below be crash tested by auto manufacturers with the TLC authorized partition installed. A limited exception is made for hybrid electric and accessible vehicles, allowing such vehicles to be hacked up as taxicabs until one hybrid electric and one accessible vehicle, respectively, are crash tested with a TLC authorized partition. Requiring crash testing with TLC authorized partitions ensures that all auto manufacturers looking to participate in the New York City taxi market are held to the same high safety standards.
In 2012, the TLC received over 100 passenger complaints about air quality, ventilation, odors, or temperature inside taxicabs. In some cases, the passenger complained that the driver refused to use or adjust the temperature or ventilation. At a City Council hearing on March 5, 2013, Council Member David Greenfield complained about the odor and lack of ventilation in some taxicabs and asked the Commission to address the issue. Giving passengers the ability to control the temperature and ventilation in the back of the taxicab addresses these concerns. The proposed rule also requires that vehicles with a crash-tested, TLC authorized partition have rear-controlled air conditioning.
Specifically, the proposed rule:
· Amends the specifications for vehicles authorized to be used as taxicabs by requiring that all taxicab models be crash tested with a TLC authorized partition installed in the vehicle.
· Amends the specifications for vehicles authorized to be used as taxicabs by requiring that all taxicab models have passenger-controlled rear air conditioning.
The proposed rule also:
· Exempts hybrid electric vehicles from these requirements until a hybrid electric vehicle manufacturer has crash tested a hybrid electric vehicle with a TLC authorized partition installed in the vehicle and the vehicle has passenger-controlled rear air conditioning, after which all hybrid electric vehicles to be used as taxicabs must be crashed tested with a TLC authorized partition installed in the vehicle and have passenger-controlled rear air conditioning,
· Exempts accessible vehicles from this requirement until an accessible vehicle manufacturer has crash tested an accessible vehicle with a TLC authorized partition installed in the vehicle and the vehicle has passenger-controlled rear air conditioning, after which all accessible vehicles to be used as taxicabs must be crashed tested with a TLC authorized partition installed in the vehicle and have passenger-controlled rear air conditioning,
· Allows the Deputy Commissioner for Safety and Emissions, as opposed to the Commission, to approve equivalent protective plates in partitions, consistent with current TLC practices for approving protective plates during the hack up of a vehicle.
These rules are authorized by Section 2303 of the Charter and Sections 19-503 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York.