Taxi cabs are rarely a good example of vehicle safety, especially in traffic-heavy roadways such as the New Jersey Turnpike or New York City. Last month, famed "A Beautiful Mind" mathematician John Nash and his wife were killed in a single-vehicle crash while riding in a taxi. The driver of the cab lost control while passing another vehicle and slammed into a nearby guardrail. The fact that neither Mr. Nash or his wife were wearing seatbelts at the time of the collision may have also been a contributing factor to their deaths.
While the fatal crash certainly has promoted awareness of seatbelt safety, New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) is now turning to new road safety alert systems to prevent taxi collisions. Last week, the Commissioner of TLC, Meera Joshi, announced the launch of the TLC's Vehicle Safety Technology (VST) Pilot Program. The Times of Israel reported that the software, Mobileye, will be installed in New York City taxis on a voluntary basis. Drivers will not be fined for refusing the program, however some may be required to receive safety counseling.
According to Mobileye's website, the so-called "collision avoidance technology" works by "interpreting a scene in real-time and providing drivers with an immediate evaluation based on its analysis." The technology was developed by a professor at Hebrew University in Israel and is currently the "standard on models from nearly all car makers in the US, Japan, and Europe." The Mobileye Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) is similar to safety technology installed in tractor trailers, and uses a smart magnifying camera, which triggers an alarm if the vehicle comes too close to an object. The system also is connected to the braking system and can electronically stop the vehicle if the brakes fail. The VST program is part of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's "Vision Zero Action Plan," a safety plan whose goal is to prevent vehicle and pedestrian collisions and to promote street safety in the New York City area. Bill de Blasio also promised to expand better design and regulations in metropolitan area with the help of this plan.
Commissioner Meera Joshi believes that the VST Pilot Program will assist the Taxi and Limousine Commission in pinpointing the exact cause of taxi-related crashes. As of April 2015, 16,671 motor vehicle collisions have occurred in New York City. 1405 of these vehicles were taxi cabs. With the help of Mobileye, vehicle safety organizations will have the ability to analyze collision data and potentially lower the percentage of taxi-related crashes in the New York City area.