Hello, everyone…..I hope the winter has been treating you all kindly. I would like to begin this column with a heartfelt thank you to our former Commission Member from Staten Island, Elias Arout, who announced his retirement from the TLC’s Board at our most recent public meeting. For those of you who do not know, or know of Commissioner Arout, he was, by far, the longest-serving TLC Commission Member, having been appointed by Mayor Edward I. Koch to an initial term in 1988.
Staten Island Commissioner Elias Arout (center), flanked by Commission members Jacques Jiha (at right) and Bill Aguato, registers a final vote at a recent Public Meeting.
In addition to his 27 years of unpaid civic service on the TLC’s Board, Commissioner Arout is a 26-year Naval veteran, and served our city as a New York City Housing Authority Police Officer prior to his career retirement.
Commissioner Arout, it was an honor and a privilege to serve with you, and we wish you many continued years of health and happiness in your retirement!
I would like to touch on the issue of driving fatigued, which initially came to the media’s attention following a yellow taxi crash last November that tragically took the life of an elderly woman in Manhattan. In the course of being interviewed by Police at the scene of the crash, the driver was overheard by reporters to have said that he was coming off a 16-hour shift. While an analysis of his shift data revealed that there were several multi-hour breaks during those 16 hours, it also left no question this was an issue worthy of both dialogue and study.
More recently, there has been even more attention paid to the issue in the media, and I shared the fact that we have already taken the first steps in using the data available to us to determine how best to combat fatigued driving. Our goal in the coming months is to develop and propose rules, grounded in data and best practices that, as an extension of our work to bring the Vision Zero Action Plan to fruition, will distill our research into tangible actions that will ensure the safe operation of all our regulated industries.
All that having been said, it really is quite simple. Driving fatigued impairs your ability to drive safely, and it puts your life and the lives of others at-risk. Now that awareness of this issue is at its highest, take a moment to think about your own practices behind the wheel. Are you getting enough rest? Is a nap all that’s standing between you and being the responsible professional that your license says you are? Think about it.
I just have two more tidbits before closing. First – yes – yet another reminder that, starting April 1, 2016, the TLC is moving to an exclusively online payment process for driver license renewals, and an e-mail or mail process for the submission of required documents. We will no longer be accepting in-person visits to renew driver licenses. It is quick and easy and, if you pay with e-check, it’s free! Visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/tlc/downloads/pdf/industry_notice_16_02.pdf for all the details.
Lastly, for those of you who may not yet have heard, I wanted to mention that the TLC has proposed the repeal of the Owner-Must-Drive requirements that have been in place since 1990. It will be the subject of a public hearing and likely vote at our public meeting scheduled for February 25 at 10 a.m., and I encourage anyone who wants to weigh in on this important subject to attend.
Until next time, stay safe and stay warm!