Fifteen Complaints Filed Every Day About Reckless Taxi Drivers

Taxicab on Lakefront Path.
Any driving is reckless driving on the Lakefront Trail. Photo via get directly down/Flickr

The current debate over rideshare legislation within City Hall and in Springfield has aired the resentment that Chicagoans have towards their taxicab drivers.

Jamie Crain, a spokeswoman for Uber, sent Streetsblog excerpts from over 2,000 taxi complaints filed with the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection between February and April. That’s an average of 29 complaints filed every day, even though early spring is usually a slow season for travel in Chicago.

Fully 53 percent of complaints were about serious offenses that endangered others, namely reckless driving and assault, with many of the rest about rude drivers or billing. Some of the more egregious complaints filed include:

“Cab was driving the wrong way down a one-way street, struck a bicyclist and then fled the scene.”

“Cab driver jumped out of his cab and drop-kicked a bicyclist, then picked up the bike and threw it… The bicyclist was an older man.”

“The cab did an illegal U-turn on a red light, almost hitting a pedestrian at Wacker and Adams.”

“Driver ran two red lights and almost hit someone on a bicycle.”

“Driver texting while driving, including on the Kennedy.”

The complaints heavily centered on parts of town that see the most taxis, with 49 percent of complaints filed within the three wards that cover downtown and O’Hare International Airport.

Chicago deserves better from its professional drivers, and now rideshare operations are bringing a whole new class of paid drivers onto streets shared with pedestrians, cyclists, and other drivers. Changes to livery licensing are a key part of New York City’s plans for achieving Vision Zero, and they should be welcomed by both taxi and rideshare operators as a way to reduce liability costs. Expanded safety training, in-vehicle monitoring, and strict penalties for reckless driving should also be part of Chicago’s agenda as it moves to modernize its regulations.

If you see a taxicab or a ridesharing vehicle driving dangerously, you can file a complaint online or by calling 311.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    Will Uber and the other ride share companies have complaints reported to the department of business affairs? Right now every cab has a posted sign in the cab telling cab riders to where they can file a complaint. Do the ride share companies have the same information in their vehicles? Eventually, as ride share proliferates, there will be bad behavior by ride share drivers too, I’m sure. So is this a complete story, or is it skewed propaganda by one ride share company so it can claim the high ground versus the evil taxi industry? Taxi plate and numbers are on every side of the vehicle and roof. Are ride share companies going to plaster a vehicle number all over so if I can’t get the license plate number I can still get a number to report bad driving? Streetsblog by feeding its readers with comments meant to raise their ire is being hoodwinked by Uber into believing their rides will be safer and more pleasant. Only time will tell. In the mean time, one should question the the source.

  • Adam Herstein

    I have filed numerous 311 complaints and even called 911 on a cabbie that assaulted me, and never felt like the city cared. What can I do to make them listen and actually take these complaints into concern?

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    So if the ride share companies do not specifically identify their vehicles, how is someone on the street supposed to know that they could report that vehicle to the department of business affairs for bad driving?

    The author of this thread is obviously being bamboozled by the spokeswoman for Uber and should know better.

  • ohsweetnothing

    I think this is supposed to be a counterpoint to all of the taxi industry’s rhetoric that allowing rideshare companies to operate will unleash some crazy, unsafe alternative to the courteous, always professional taxicabs. Which everyone (except our elected officials I guess) knows is laughably untrue.
    The City’s ride share ordinance requires that rideshare cars be identifiable from the outside, and given that the whole industry is based on gps and app data…tracking a bad actor is probably going to be much easier than it currently is with cabs.

  • ohsweetnothing

    I still remember the time a cabbie was bragging to me about how much he hates bikes on the streets and how he always tries to cut them off or make it difficult to pass him when he’s driving around. The fact that anyone has sympathy for this industry when a new competitor comes into town blows my mind. I won’t even mention my racist experiences with cabs in this city…

  • Check out Steven’s post about his positive experience reporting an abusive cabbie to 311: http://gridchicago.com/2012/calling-311-to-report-dangerous-taxicab-drivers-works/

  • Ryan G-S

    Ridesharing companies have the advantage of being able to use user reviews of drivers to inform enforcement. If I take an Uber and the driver is reckless or clueless, I leave a bad review, and then Uber follows up with me (and presumably the driver, too).

    Theoretically, 311 should function the same way for the taxi industry, except the city’s ability to regulate taxi drivers is severely hampered by administrative and bureaucratic processes.

    The city should do “secret shopper” enforcement with cabs and ridesharing. Regularly send inspectors out posing as civilians to take rides, then document infractions and hold drivers accountable. The cab unions and ridesharing companies would both hate it, but I bet drivers would be much better behaved.

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