UPPER WEST SIDE (WABC) -- How long a cab driver was driving before an accident that killed an elderly pedestrian in Manhattan early Sunday is one of the key questions investigators are trying to answer, but now the TLC says the 73-year-old driver was not behind the wheel for 12 consecutive hours.
Luisa Rosario, 88, was hit and killed in the Manhattan Valley section, one of 108 pedestrians killed in New York City this year and the 12th since Halloween. But while driver Salifu Abubakar began his shift almost 16 hours before the accident, the TLC says he did not break any rules.
The review of Abubakar's trip tracker records confirms that he did not drive more than 12 hours, taking at least two breaks. Officials say he logged in at 9 a.m., working five hours until 2 p.m., when he took a one-hour break. He logged in again at 3 p.m., and the meter was then active for just over 2.5 hours until logged off at 5:40 p.m.
He then took another break for just over an hour, logging in again at 7 p.m. At the time of the crash, approximately 12:40 a.m., the driver had worked for approximately 5.5 consecutive hours.
The TLC does have a rule on the books prohibiting taxi drivers from driving for more than 12 consecutive hours, but enforcement isn't straightforward, as the above analysis illustrates. Drivers take breaks throughout their shift to attend to personal needs, and these breaks re-start the clock. Even in those instances where a meter is seen to have been logged-in in excess of 12 hours, it is often a demonstrable oversight on the driver's part.
Many taxi drivers lease by the shift, meaning they only have the taxi available to them for a maximum of 12 hours. The TLC recently promulgated rules that facilitate fleet garages structuring shorter, more flexible shifts, similar to the flexible shifting that some drivers see as preferable in the for-hire vehicle industry.
For the above reasons, going all the way back to 1990 when the rule was instituted, no violations have been issued.
The cab driver's son told Eyewitness News that his father is a hard-working man who is sorry for what happened.
Abubkar remained at the scene and was charged with failure to yield. He was issued a desk appearance ticket and will appear in court December 16.
Rosario was crossing the intersection at 109th Street and Columbus Avenue around 12:30 Sunday morning when she was struck by the cab, which was making a right turn. Police say she was in the crosswalk at the time.
Abubkar has been a driver for more than 26 years. His license to drive a cab was immediately suspended after the crash.
TLC: Cab driver who fatally struck pedestrian not behind wheel for 12 straight hours