In many of the nation’s biggest cities, there are no laws requiring taxi companies to fix cabs after. Now, the Center for Auto Safety is calling for that to change.
The organization has sent letters demanding taxi fleets be required to address all open safety recalls before they can carry passengers, CBS News correspondent Kris Van Cleave reports.
A review by the center found the more than 35,000 cabs licensed in nine of the 10 U.S. cities with the most taxis are not required by their regulators to get safety recalls fixed before picking up passengers.
“There’s no way for a customer to know,” said Jason Levine, the center’s executive director.
Only San Francisco requires cabs to be screened for recalls, he said. “There are no cosmetic recalls. Recalls are only done for safety reasons, defects or a violation of standards,” he said.
In Baltimore, where the Maryland Public Service Commission regulates cabs, Transportation Director Christopher Koermer said the letter from the center have prompted a review of the state’s regulations.
“Safety is paramount. As far as looking at the safety recalls, it’s complicated. That’s why we want to take a deeper dive,” he said.
Pressed on whether the state can just require cab operators to fix vehicles after recalls, Koermer said, “We certainly can, and again, that’s why we’re very much interested in looking at this.”
Last year, CBS affiliate WUSA found as many as one in six Washington, D.C. cabs had open safety recalls, including for defective Takata airbags, which have killed at least 24 people worldwide.
“It’s not fair for the unsuspecting public,” said Cally Houck.
Both Houck’s daughters died in a violent crash after a recalled power steering hose broke, starting a fire in their rental car.
“You don’t get over it. What you do is you get through it, and it remains with you until you die. It never goes away,” she said.
Accidents caused by unrepaired safety defects are not directly tracked so it’s not possible to know how many injuries or deaths are even related to them. The Center for Auto Safety has called on companies like Uber and Lyft to require drivers to also fix open safety recalls before taking passengers, but so far that hasn’t happened.