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Thursday, March 3, 2011

San Francisco Taxi Drivers Income may be Reduced

I just read a disturbing article written in San Francisco Business Times that a newly elected Supervisor wants to legislate more cabs on the streets of San Francisco to cover supply and demand. The article is located at this URL:

San Franciscans I don’t understand the oversight on our San Francisco Taxi Drivers.

Currently most cab companies do not carry uninsured motorist coverage for their taxis and are not required to by the city. In addition there in no car insurance coverage for the drivers who drive a cab in the city of San Francisco.

In addition did you know that air bags are not required to be replaced in a taxi after the car has been in a prior accident?

I am aware of this dilemma for taxi drivers because I was driving a car last April 2010 when and uninsured motorist and I collided at the intersection of 8th and Minna. At the scene of the accident I lost my vision temporarily and lost the use of my legs for several hours. My injuries were many because there was no air bag in the taxi to break my head and body from the dashboard or window. I really would have hoped the seat belt I was wearing would have kept me steady, but the seat belt locking mechanism broke. What safety checks are in place to make sure the cars the taxi drivers drive and passengers ride in our safe for the public? I was taken to San Francisco general Hospital where I finally regained the use of my legs and vision luckily. I have been driving a cab for several years and was told when I started by the driving instructor that we are covered by insurance in the event of an accident that is not our fault and that cab companies carry uninsured motorist coverage. Boy was I lied to. The driver of the other vehicle who did not stop or apparently look to see if cars were coming entered into 8th street from Minna making contact in my right corner of my taxi. I found out days later she was uninsured.

This is when I found out that cab companies no longer have to insure the driver behind the wheel (no insurance? What in San Francisco) and to the companies benefit no uninsured motorist either. I was then told by a San Francisco Licensed attorney that cab companies are required to carry Workers Compensation Insurance to cover the driver in the taxi. It has been a year and I still get calls that the bills have not been paid by the Workers Compensation Insurance carrier. Do I really have Workers Compensation Coverage, I wonder.

My point is this San Francisco, we hear at City Hall that we need to protect the jobs of our city workers and their benefits and pensions. What about the thousands of cab drivers in San Francisco who do not have health insurance, no retirement, not insured by taxi companies while driving, no uninsured motorist coverage and apparently no legislation to enforce that an air bag is in place while driving a cab. I did bring this to the attention of the SFMTA Taxi Division. I was told that currently their is no legislation in the city to carry other than simple liability insurance for the taxis and that their is no legislation to require air bags be replaced after a taxi has been in a prior accident.

My message to the board of supervisors and the city of San Francisco is that can we pass some legislation that protects the people and their families who drive in the city of San Francisco? and why do we keep taking money from these already poor drivers who serve our community. I understand that MUNI is broke, but why are we trying to take money from taxi drivers who have nothing and give to the MUNI operations?

Please throw the taxi drivers and the public a bone and legislate something we all would benefit from car insurance for the drivers and uninsured motorist coverage. Also lets legislate that we must have an air bag in taxis, imagine if I would have had a family in my car at the time of the accident, we need safety in our San Francisco Taxi Cabs!

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