Reporting Pam Zekman
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CHICAGO (CBS) – They are terrorizing your streets, in the car next to you -– or even driving your cab.
Now, the city of Chicago is vowing to crack down on dangerous taxi drivers, 2 Investigator Pam Zekman reports.
Passenger Michelle Crayton had no time before her cabdriver crashed into a building last June. Hector Placencia was killed as he walked to work.
His attorney, Larry Ruder, has a tape of what the cab driver apparently did.
“He accelerates to get around the slow moving traffic but loses control at a high rate of speed and literally careens off the roadway, killing my client,” Ruder said.
The cab driver, Yao Ofori, pleaded not guilty to tickets for driving too fast for conditions.
He declined comment to CBS 2.
While making a turn, Ofori hit another pedestrian in 2007. But She gave Ofori a break by not testifying and warned him, “Please don’t do this again. This is my gift to you — don’t squander it.”
Ofori has had 34 violations, with 14 convictions.
Crayton, the passenger who was injured, wonders why he’s still on the street.
It happens because many of the tickets – sometimes, most of them — get dismissed because the complaining witness is not in court. Typically that’s the police officer who wrote them.
Take the case of taxi driver Mohammed Ahmed.
He’s gotten 63 tickets since 1999, with just 14 convictions. He says he’s not an unsafe driver, but now he’s charged with failing to yield the right of way to 86-year-old Cora Kier as she crossed the street.
“He just plowed into her and ran her down like she wasn’t even there,” witness Mary Roberts said.
Kier died from her injuries.
The crashes underscore another problem, says Michelle Crayton’s attorney.
“What is most outrageous is that the vast majority of cabs on the road today have the same level of insurance that they had 23 years ago,” he said.
That level of insurance is $350,000 per incident, the minimum required by the city. That won’t cover the medical costs for Crayton’s broken arm, hip, leg and back.
Now, a citywide review of rules and ordinances for cabs is underway to update them, including the $350,000 insurance minimum.
A cab driver with three or more convictions for moving violations in the past year will no longer get his license renewed.
The city’s working to set up an electronic notification process to quickly get police information about tickets and accidents.