Article Image
File Photo

Cooper’s Law, named for 9-year-old Cooper Stock who was killed by a taxi driver at West End Avenue and 97th Street on Jan. 10, officially went into effect Sunday.

Cooper's Law, named for 9-year-old Cooper Stock who was killed by a taxi driver at West End Avenue and 97th Street on Jan. 10, officially went into effect Sunday along with two other local laws surrounding NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission policies.

Cooper's Law says that a driver who critically injures or kills a pedestrian will be suspended by the TLC. It was signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio on June 23, along with 10 other laws as part of a package for de Blasio's Vision Zero initiative.

Stock was struck and killed by taxi driver Koffi Komlani while crossing the street with his father at a walk signal. Komlani stopped driving cabs after the accident but was allowed to keep his TLC license until it expired July 5. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. did not press charges against Komlani.

Dana Lerner, Stock's mother, spoke at a public TLC hearing on Thursday with District 6 City Council member Helen Rosenthal, who created the legislation.

"The TLC is clearly trying very hard to be on top of this and take this seriously," Lerner said of the meeting. "They're claiming that they will be able to enforce the law."

At Thursday's hearing, the TLC reviewed the rules for the three new laws. Local Law 28 requires the TLC to review police investigations and perform a fitness test to determine whether or not the TLC license of a driver who critically injures a pedestrian but does not receive a summons or charges should be revoked. Local Law 30 outlines a restructuring of the Persistent Violator program, including the rules for receiving and getting rid of points on a TLC driver's license.

"The sole purpose of these rules that we are discussing today is not to penalize the majority of drivers who do the right thing," Cindi Davidson, the director of Policy and Governmental Affairs at the TLC, said. "In fact, the purpose of these rules is to penalize the very few dangerous drivers and encourage safe driving patterns."

According to Davidson's presentation on Thursday, in the case of a driver who kills or critically injures a pedestrian and is then given a summons, the TLC can then suspend the driver's license. If a driver is convicted of the summons, then the TLC must revoke the driver's license.

Komlani was given a summons for failing to yield, but was not suspended.  

Rosenthal said that enforcement will be much stricter under the three new laws.

"The tricky thing is getting that summons to be written," Rosenthal said. "But once that summons is written, there is no question about that enforcement."

But Lerner still expressed concern about enforcement of the law and also frustration that there is no road test on New York City streets required for TLC drivers.

"I still believe that the TLC is not doing enough to make sure that bad drivers aren't hired," Lerner told Spectator. "They should know in advance."

On Sunday morning, taxi drivers zipped in and out of Gujrat Deli and Doaba Deli, two South Asian fast food restaurants on Columbus Avenue and 106th Street that cater to taxi drivers, stopping for an early lunch, a quick snack, or even to buy a replacement taxicab roof light.

Ravi Mahey, a taxi driver, said that he has gotten two tickets for failing to yield to pedestrians.

In one incident at 79th Street and 3rd Avenue, Mahey said a policeman ticketed him for turning too close to a woman in the crosswalk. The second ticket occurred at 35th Street and 7th Avenue, he said.

"That street is so busy—I was trying to make a turn, and it was about to be a red light," he said about 35th Street. "It's very hard to see there."

Mahey objected to Cooper's Law, calling it a "stupid move" that unfairly targets cab drivers, who he said are not always at fault.

"We always think of safety first. We try our best to let them cross," he said. "Sometimes, with a red light, they are still crossing. They never blame people for doing it."

Alexander Tin contributed reporting.  |  @evakalikoff

traffic 96th Street Vision Zero pedestrian safety