2 Investigators: Cabbie Red-Light Tickets Aren’t Reported To Regulators

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The city is not getting valuable information it needs to make sure cabbies are safe drivers.

Reports by the 2 Investigators have already resulted in major reforms. But now reporter Pam Zekman has found a loophole involving cab drivers and red-light camera violations.

Take the case of cabdriver Bukwang Yang. He has been caught on camera and issued red-light tickets — eight times.

When confronted by Zekman, Yang at first blamed the design of the lights, saying they should have timer displays showing how long a yellow light will last.

Pressed about his own responsibility, Yang conceded, “I paid (the tickets). My fault.”

So far, Yang has paid $750 in fines, according to the Chicago Department of Revenue.

A spokeswoman for that agency says the department does not forward the red-light camera violations to the City Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Services, which regulates cab drivers. That’s because red-light camera tickets are not considered to be moving violations.

Rosemary Krimbel, who heads the city’s cab licensing agency, thinks that doesn’t make sense. She was interested in the information about Yang.

Under state law, if violators pay their red-light camera tickets the violations do not become part of their official driving record.

If they fail to pay the tickets, however, a cab driver’s license can be suspended. In the past, city cab regulators have relied on the drivers to get copies of their official driving record from Secretary of State’s Office when the city decides whether to renew a cabbie’s license.

Krimbel says she will now get that information from the revenue department as part of her effort to weed out dangerous cab drivers.

“The more data I can get on a driver that we license, the better,” she says.

Besides his red-light camera offenses, the 2 Investigators found Yang has had nearly 60 tickets for moving violations since 1989. If city regulators had known about those red-light violations, he might have lost his license before he hit pedestrian Diego Torres Galvan last year.

“I didn’t see him,” Yang told Zekman. Yang said Galvan was crossing in the middle of the street when he heard a loud noise.

Yang told the police that Galvan “ran into the side of his taxi,” according to the police report.

But Galvan’s attorney, Brian Kusper, says photos of the cab show the damage was done to the right front part of the cab and the windshield.

It would be “virtually impossible” for that damage to occur if Galvan ran into the side of the cab.

Now Galvan is suing Yang for negligence for failing to operate his cab in a safe manner or exercise care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian, charges Yang denies.

Yang was ticketed by the police for failing to reduce his speed. But the ticket was dismissed because Galvan was not in traffic court when the case was called. At the time, Galvan was still recuperating at his home in California from a brain injury, broken shoulder, knee injury and broken leg caused by the accident.

“There was no way that he was going to be able to travel to Chicago to attend the hearing on the ticket,” said Joseph Bosco, Galvan’s other attorney.

Because the ticket was dismissed, the city Department of Consumer Services was not aware of the accident.

As a result of cases like this, Commissioner Krimbel says her agency will now get cab accident reports involving injuries from the police as well as information on red-light camera violations.

That information will be added to the department’s “watch list” along with passenger complaints to help the city weed out potentially dangerous drivers.

“That is my main concern and the public’s concern as well,” Krimbel said.

She urged the public to call 311 to report complaints they have.

Krimbel also says there’s been a real “shakeup” of personnel at the agency’s licensing facility, and disciplinary action taken against one employee who renewed the license of a cabdriver convicted of drunken driving.

The number of cab driver’s licenses that have been suspended or revoked increased from 11 in 2010 to 29 in 2011. Most of the increases happened after the new administration took over last May, she said.

As for Yang, he told Zekman he would try to be a better driver.

“No more ticket, OK? I try,” he said

More from Pam Zekman
  • Joe Palatine

    Why do congressmen and woman get free health care for life even if they are not re-elected?

  • Rj

    great story Pam!

  • Rand Anderson

    The violations of cab drivers has gone on for years. The city has NEVER cracked down on the arrogance, stupidity and reckless driving of cab drivers..why would they when the cab companies “donate” to politicians. My companys personnel NEVER go in to the city and use cabs rarely

  • Yiannis

    Pam no tipping mom I picked here up few times never got any tips from here She is the ugliest and the cheapest woman ever

  • Larry Horse's Arse Horse's Arse

    1. Plenty of cab drivers should not be driving because of moving violations, but they do anyway.

    2. CPD picks on cab drivers. They nit pick anything they can to write them tickets. I’ve heard it from cops and have seen it with my own eyes. In my opinion, there is a racial element to it.

    3. Red light cameras do need a countdown so you can time them. Some have count down lights on the ped signs. Others don’t. It’s very easy to get into no man’s land and have to decide in a split second if you’re gunning it through or getting rear ended for stopping to avoid the ticket.

    4. Red light cameras are a gigantic scam and only about revenue. They are not about safety. Period.

    5. Reporting violations regarding cabbies to Consumer Services is a gigantic headache. Make it easier than filling out an electronic report on the net and then filling out the paper report sent to you. It’s not worth the time unless you’re injured.

  • deb

    The police constantly harass cabbies for the most minor infractions. I have witnessed it. Instead of going down to the South Side and reporting on crooked inspectors who extort bribes from drivers in the city owned yard, you continually pick on the cabbies. It’s easy. But when a cab driver gets a moving violation for a car that is legally parked, the I-Team is not interested.

  • missy

    Are the drivers black?

  • cabMANiac

    Chicago where cabs are not safe anywhere because city regs require that you pick up anyone that flags you even if they robbed you last week. Where city traffic aids and crossing guards regularly supplement their hours and ratings by noting down taxi plate numbers and using them to send traffic and parking tickets for several days. Tickets the city requires you to contest in their own kangaroo court in person and where soon as they know you’re a cabbie you go to last in line and spend all day for 1 or 2 tickets. red light cams are supposed to have a 7 sec yellow city cams NEVER do thus making all tickets invalid – but – contesting this puts the ticket on your record and you and the law may by dismissed adding points to your driving record. paying them off gets the city what they want – $$$ -an keeps a conviction off your record. while driving in Chicago for 25 years i have been robbed called the police and ended up impounded for some small infraction like a blown bulb or out of washer fluid. No robbery report taken until at the station when I got there meanwhile the robber walked right past me getting handcuffed and my cab towed no news team was interested in this because it wasn’t the driver’s fault. But let the driver be at fault and headlines scream BAD CAB DRIVER CAUGHT. Hippocritics sucks.

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