Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Who Is Ultimately Responsible?---A Year-End Postscript

While I'd rather not point fingers or assign blame, isn't someone other than the driver liable for issuing for-hire driving licenses to the blatantly ill-prepared?  How can that not be true when the City of Seattle and King County are making the final decisions as to who is and isn't qualified to drive a taxi or flat-rate or Uber car?   By presenting a few anecdotal examples I'll let you the reader decide what is true or not.  If the regulators are not responsible, then does it fall completely upon the newly arrived immigrant or driver amateur  to solely understand something that is totally new to them?

As I have noted many times before, most professions demand clear demonstrations of knowledge and ability before certifying that the doctor or attorney or airline pilot  is ready to enter and practice their profession. But if "adding water and mix" is your sole criteria for licensing individuals then it is not surprising that too many of the new for-hire drivers are clueless, and moreover,  a clear danger to others.  Again, see if you agree after reading these few choice examples of what should be avoided not once, not twice but for all times in the future.

---Saturday a passenger told me about the accident she witnessed at the intersection of 3rd & Bell, when a flat-rate for-hire driver hit a pedestrian and attempted to drive off without lending assistance.  She saw all this firsthand because she was sitting in that very same flat-rate car which kept driving until she called the police from the back seat.  The driver was from East Africa, spoke fractured English and was at that point scared out of his mind.  I am sure he will never drive professionally again.  What will happen to him or his family I hate to think.  Thankfully it sounds like the injuries to the woman struck by him are minor but trying to leave the accident scene was a huge error.  As I keep telling (when the situation warrants it) many fellow cabbies, that even though you are now an American citizen, it doesn't me you can't be deported back to your home country.  I guess, unlike me, they never read the newspaper and the repeated accounts of felons sent back to where they never wanted to return.

---Picking up at a post-Seahawk game about a month ago the passengers recounted a story  how their young flat-rate driver neither knew where the Seahawk stadium was nor how to get there though their hotel located at 4th & Spring is only about a half-mile away as the taxi flies.  A nice young man, they said, but clearly not ready to be driving people around for a living.  They felt sorry for him.

---Sticking to the flat-rate theme, yesterday a passenger at the train station made sure my car had a meter because of recent experiences with those non-metered flat-rate cars, drivers providing him estimates usually 50 percent higher than legal rates.  Enjoying the ride home, he said that my kind of professionalism is underrated and unrecognized, meaning he was tired of getting ripped-off by all those drivers who fall in a different category.

---Not to leave taxis totally out of the maligned limelight, a passenger last night told me about a crazy, speeding Orange taxi driver who recklessly tailgated a city bus. "He scared me!"

---Two weeks ago I picked up a drunk young man whose Uber driver had dropped him off at the West Seattle ferry terminal, a location literally four miles from where he wanted to go.  Putting his destination address in his app request, he fell asleep only to be put out next to Lincoln Park.  Where  he needed to go and where I took him to was a house located in the 8000 block of 36th Avenue South over on Beacon Hill. Another lament was that his telephone had been left in the errant Uber and he didn't know how to get it back.

---That same day but later in the evening two party goers told me how earlier their Uber driver had scared them "to death" by insisting by not once but twice making a left-hand turn from a middle lane, their driver in this instance a middle-aged white woman.


So reader jury, who is to blame, who is responsible for these small and not-so-small instances of professional driver failure?  Last year there was a rookie Yellow cabbie who didn't know how to get his passengers from King Street Station to the airport, yet another example of what I am pointing out, a problem affecting all of the driving services regardless of what they call themselves.   My guess, if all the mistakes were listed from a given day, they might amount to the hundreds if not the thousands, unseen errors cluttering a given professional day and night, unknown to everyone but the frightened passenger clinging in terror to the back seat.  

And when will this kind of nonsense stop?  Clearly when, and only when Seattle and King County's licensing administrators recognize that what they are doing is neither reasonable or justifiable: licensing the unprepared to do something that is very difficult---taking passengers safely and efficiently from point A to B over Seattle's clogged and dangerous streets.  If the situation doesn't change, isn't it time to ask just why are they not changing  licensing criteria and polices?  It is a good question, one begging for an answer in 2017, not 2117!

Happy New Year!  Be safe!  And given all this rain we are having, no tailgating, please!

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