Would you eat in a filthy restaurant with numerous health code violations?
How about riding in a cab with a reckless, dangerous driver?
In the first case, you have a choice. NYC restaurants are required to post letter grade ratings that reflect sanitary safety scores. But cabs and livery vehicles? You're virtually on your own.
When CBS News correspondent Bob Simon stepped into a Lincoln Town Car last week to go downtown, he had no idea what he was getting into -- or that it would be his last ride.
How could Simon know that the car's driver reportedly had nine license suspensions and two moving violations on his record? Not to mention a useless left arm due to a suicide attempt that caused him to drive one-handed.
If cab and livery drivers were required to post letter ratings on their car windows based on the number of violations, suspensions and accidents they've had, Simon might have never stepped into that car.
I don't know anyone eager to dine in a restaurant rated less than an A or B and risk getting sick. Why should we enter a vehicle for hire and risk getting killed?
Much has been made of the fact that Simon wasn't wearing a seat belt. Yes, we all should, but do you always use one when you step into the backseat of a cab? The Taxi and Limousine Commission doesn't require their use! No one knows whether Simon would be alive today if he had buckled up. But he probably would be had he never entered that vehicle.
If a rating law were enacted, livery companies would quickly compete to have all A-rated drivers.
A year ago, Mayor Bill de Blasio launched Vision Zero, a safety program that lowered the NYC speed limit to 25 mph and increased the number of speed cameras. The City Council has since approved a package of 11 other bills, including increased penalties for drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians or bikers.
But when you enter a cab or other livery vehicle, you are still traveling in the dark when it comes to your safety and the competency of your driver. A rating system would go a long way toward rectifying that.
Mayor de Blasio, what do you think?
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.