The XX Factor

Why Cabbies Talk on Their Phones

I’ll admit my bias up front: My father is a New York City cab driver, and has been for 35 years. That could be him in that stock photo on the cover of today’s scolding New York Times story, for all I know. The story chastises cabbies for talking on their cell phones and driving. Well, I’ll explain why they do. Starting with Rudolph Giuliani, New York’s mayors have imposed endless regulations on taxis. They raised the height of the window between driver and passenger, installed televisions and credit cards. The result, over the years, is to turn taxi drivers into chauffeurs. My father used to chat amiably with his passengers all day. Now he can’t hear what they say and they’re always on their cell phones or watching TV anyway. So he’s pretty bored. As it happens, he tries never to talk on his phone while driving. And I know most drivers don’t. Still, the thought of that New York Times reporter hopping around the city “politely” asking drivers to get off their phones makes me want to break his glasses.