NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Cellphone video shows a New York City taxi driver having a conversation on FaceTime while a passenger is in the back seat.
As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported exclusively, it happened on Wednesday – shortly after the city announced a discount on cab fares to deter reckless driving during the holiday season.READ MORE: NYPD: Delivery Worker Stabbed To Death, E-Bike Stolen Near Sara D. Roosevelt Park
The cellphone video was taken in the back of a yellow cab going across Midtown around 1 p.m. Wednesday. The driver is seen holding up his phone and talking.
CBS2 blurred the screen in showing the video, but there is a man on it who is talking back.
“That’s the scariest thing I’ve ever seen,” said Amy Pender.
“Is he driving?” said Lisa Manna of Hell’s Kitchen. “Oh no!”
The cabbie eventually lowers his phone, but keeps talking – looking down every once in a while. And that passenger recording from the back seat was CBS2’s Bauman herself – who was in the cab just after some last-minute holiday shopping.
“I’d be worried for my kids – that’s for sure,” said another man who saw the video.
“I would not ride with someone who does that,” Manna said.READ MORE: Gabby Petito Foundation Holds Fundraiser On Long Island
Bauman sent the video to the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission office. The commissioner called the behavior “dangerous, distracted driving,” but declined to talk on camera about it.
However, earlier in the day — a couple hours before that cab ride – TLC commissioner Meera Joshi spoke at a news conference encouraging New Yorkers to ride yellow cabs during the holiday season.
“That means everybody in New York can get around safely at one of the happiest times of year,” Joshi said.
Joshi also said in her statement about the video that it is “precisely the kind of recklessness that our efforts are designed to battle.”
She said the commission plans to “hold this driver accountable for his unacceptable behavior.”
“He’s very distracted,” said Jean Augustine of Queens. “He should be focused on what he’s doing.”
The city said between shorter days and holiday boozing, the next few weeks are traditionally some of the deadliest all year for pedestrians. But the back of a taxi could be dangerous as well.MORE NEWS: Police: Suspect In Killing Of New Rochelle Taxi Driver Taken Into Custody After Shootout In Brooklyn
The driver may face a fine of up to $350. Bauman reached out to the medallion company, which had no comment.