Who the hell do taxicab drivers talk to all day long while they are driving their cabs? The other day, I took a cab ride from The Loop to Lakeview - ended up being a 20 minute cab ride thanks to traffic - and the driver never stopped talking, in a foreign language of course. At first I was thrown because I thought he was talking to me and I kept saying, "I'm sorry?" and "excuse me?" Then I realized he had his bluetooth hooked in.
I don't take taxicabs very often. Unless I am leaving the office after a 12-hour day, or it's really late at night and I just want to get home fast, I tend to use the bus and the "L" to get where I need to go. It's not because I am cheap and don't like paying the fare (ok, well that is part of it), but lately I don't like the fact that I have very little say in my personal safety when it comes to being at the mercy of someone who may or may not be an actual licensed driver.
I recently discovered that a passenger may ask a taxicab driver in the city of Chicago to hang up or stop using his cell phone while driving. Yellow Cab of Chicago has posted a Passenger Bill of Rights and Responsibilities for taxi or cab passengers in the city:
- Your cab driver is licensed and trained to treat you with respect and courtesy.
- You are to travel in a clean, comfortable and safe vehicle.
- The most direct route or the route you request should be taken to your destination.
- A receipt should be provided upon request.
- Your driver must obey all traffic laws.
- Heat or air conditioning should be turned on/off at your request.
- You can travel without the radio being on.
- Smoking in the vehicle is prohibited.
- Please promptly pay your fare when reaching your destination.
- For your safety please use the curbside door to exit the cab.
- Please treat your driver with respect and courtesy.
- Cell phone use by the driver while operating the cab is prohibited except in emergencies.
- Please direct compliments or complaints to The Department of Consumer Services
- For your safety please use your seat belt.
- Please remember to take all your belongings.
Granted these are the rules for Yellow Cab (which also manages Wolley Cab and Checker), but not all taxicab companies in the city, including the other two big ones, Chicago Cab and American-United. But you better believe the next time I am in a taxicab and the driver is talking to someone who is not in the cab with me, I'm requesting he hang up and concentrate on the street, the traffic, the pedestrians, and the cyclists.
Oh, and there should also be another rule that reads something like:
- A driver may only use the horn when necessary to warn of danger.