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Cops Target Cabs, Remind All to Use Caution on Roads

Uptick in fatal accidents this year in the Town of East Hampton, despite selective enforcement initiatives.

An initiative targeting vehicles for hire operating in the Town of East Hampton officially began this weekend, as just one of the steps town officials are taking to make the roads safer during a year that has already been inundated with fatal accidents.

In a joint effort, town police and code enforcement have already ramped up efforts this summer to ensure that taxi cabs, limousines, and party buses are operating within the parameters of state and town law.

Police Chief Ed Ecker said his department issued 28 tickets this weekend to taxi drivers violating New York State Vehicle & Traffic law, such as speeding, running stop signs and blocking traffic. Meanwhile, town code enforcement officers issued 12 summonses relating to the Town Code's licensing and posting requirements, according to Patrick Gunn, an assistant town attorney and public safety division administrator.

Just six months into 2012, there have already been four traffic-related fatalities — a higher figure than most recent years (In 2011 and 2007, there was one; none were recorded in 2009; and in 2010 there were a total of four for the year). 

Ecker said the taxi cab initiative is not directly related to the fatal crash last month, in which as he walked with three others along Old Stone Highway in Amagansett. No charges have been filed in that case.

"I've been thinking about it, actually, for a while," the chief said, adding that the targeted enforcement actually began in the spring, around St. Patrick's Day, when an increased amount of out-of-town cab companies went to work in Montauk. "There were more cabs from out of town than we've ever seen before," he said.

Cabs, limos and party buses often cause congestion in already high-volume areas, particularly near Montauk hot-spots, Ecker said. "I've been out nights on the weekends and seen some of the problems happening. The traffic is flowing along fine, until a cab or a limo stops to pick people up," he said.

"We also looking for compliance; that they are operating with proper licenses and proper paperwork," Ecker said.

To drive a cab in New York State, motorists need a Class E license. The Town of East Hampton also requires a $150 vehicle license for a car used for transportation for hire. To receive such a license, cabbies must submit copies of the car's title, a state vehicle registration, state inspection certificate and proof of insurance.

"We’ve written more cabs this year than we’ve ever written," Ecker said, adding that the initiative will continue throughout the summer.

On Monday, police, along with the East Hampton Town Chiefs' Association made a public plea to ask pedestrians and drivers to use caution on the busy summer roads. The association is comprised of the six fire departments that serve the township.

The most recent fatal accident occurred on July 4, when a woman died in a two-vehicle crash in Montauk. 

The total number of accidents so far is only about 12 more than this time last year, Ecker said. His department is involved in other areas of selective enforcement on the roads, such as the Suffolk County district attorney's DWI Task Force, which . Only one of the fatal accidents in 2012 was alcohol related — a single-motorcycle crash in Springs this spring — Ecker said. 

"It is very important that while driving, walking or riding a bike that everyone follow simple 'Rules of the Road' this summer," a statement from police and the fire chiefs' association said. It included reminders to the public:

  • Walk on the sidewalk, when available, and if none is available to walk against traffic. 
  • Bicyclists should ride with traffic in single file, staying on the shoulder. 
  • Bicyclists should abide by traffic control devices. 
  • Drivers should pull over for emergency vehicles 
amagansett voter July 17, 2012 at 10:39 AM
More needs to be done. Taxi drivers with two or more moving violations should lose Town vehicle license. Taxis should pay more for license to offset increased enforcement. Secondly, bikers and joggers should use common sense on the roads. Hi Vis clothing should be worn...wearing dark clothes is poor choice.
Yes Yes July 17, 2012 at 12:26 PM
This is great news. I have seen cabs/vans driving all over the east end breaking laws.
Tlon July 17, 2012 at 12:41 PM
It's not just the taxis. In Springs many do not stop at stop signs. This is particularly true at the intersection of roads onto Springs-Fireplace Road, such as Underwood and those adjacent. You are lucky if the driver even slows down before going through the stop sign.
Mike July 17, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Maybe if the town did not grant the out of town taxis permits there would be alot less problems on the roads here there are more out of town cabs here then there are local cabs and that is where alot of your problems are coming from
Jo Breslin July 17, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Wow - how stupid. It is not just taxis. All the cars I have seen committing traffic infractions have not been taxis. Let's see just this morning a non-taxi went flying out of the Waldbaums's parking lot without stopping at the stop sign almost hitting a car. I have been tailgated by trucks and cars alike - not by taxis. Where are the police when these things happen. Perhaps if our money grubbing real estate agents did not break the town code by renting houses meant for four, six or eight people there wouldn't be the need for so many taxis on the road or cars for that matter. The town government should do the math. What happened to cracking down on share houses that the town deems illegal. Oh yes, we want these people to come back in five years. Bull crap - this area has no problem attracting people. The agents are money grubbing pigs. I hope that they all have share houses surrounding them and don't get sleep on the weekends.
Duckbornandraised July 17, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Montauk's business district has far exceeded its planned population capacity. Unfortunately, there often are not many -if any- legitimate places for a for-hire vehicle to pull over and collect their fares. The out-of-town taxi companies, having no phone business, often occupy those areas. Residents and tourists are then at the mercy of these out-of-town taxis and their prices- often charging 40-100% more than companies with local offices. But even if someone calls a local taxi company, where would they stop to collect them without risk of a traffic ticket? Beyond the lack of shoulder to pull over to, the hordes of inebriates often partially obstruct traffic during peak hours trying to hail a taxi. The congestion part of the "taxi problem" needs more than just ticket writing.
tom July 17, 2012 at 10:00 PM
The post-midnight out of town taxi problem is 10-fold what it was a year ago because there are that many more people needing transportation from these night spots, and there is money to be made here. I personally believe that $150.00 is inadequate for a license for a taxi that is not owned by an East Hampton Resident business. I think these out-of-towners should be hit up for at least $500.00 per vehicle, and that 'legal' taxis would have to display a sticker about twice the size of a beach permit. Then, make the fine for a first violation $500.00, and exponentially increase it with subsequent violations. The town could target the additional revenue to clean up the sidewalks of beer containers and red plastic cups on Saturday and Sunday mornings. With all these out-of-town taxis, it drives the local drivers to be more competitive and perhaps desperate to make a living -- this creates a dangerous situation on our roads.
Mike July 18, 2012 at 01:22 AM
I agree 100% the town needs to take a closer look at the problem and maybe they will realize that it is there own fault for give permits to taxis that are not established businesses of east hampton town. They are the ones that are causing alot of the traffic congestion and complaints. Take a look at the latest complaint about indian wells beach on saturdays it was an out of town compay that was named as the biggest offender. There were never problems like these before the town let these out of town taxis work here. Im just saying think about it!!!!!
John Tepper Marlin July 24, 2012 at 04:43 AM
Some intersections on Fireplace Road are accident-prone. For example, the slope and blind curve at Woodbine and the multiple intersection at Gardiner. Cell phones are a terrible source of distraction for drivers, but they can also be useful in law enforcement if non-drivers can call the Police Department (not 911 but the East Hampton non-emergency number 631-537-7575) and identify drivers who appear out of control of their cars and oblivious to stop signs, speed limits and common courtesy.

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