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City Adopts Strategies To Weed Out Dangerous Cab Drivers

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The city of Chicago is finally using technology to identify dangerous cab drivers.

It's a result of a CBS 2 investigative report about reckless drivers who flew under the radar of city regulators.

Now they are getting data from other city and state agencies to aggressively weed out bad cab drivers and keep them off the streets.

2 Investigator Pam Zekman previously reported the city's Department of Finance tracks red-light traffic violations, but never reported those paid by cab drivers to the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, which licenses the drivers.

Cab driver Bukwang Yang paid $750 in fines for eight red light violations but continued to drive a cab without any problems over all those blown red lights.

Now, the Department of Finance is forwarding data on cab driver red-light tickets to its sister agency.

Rosemary Krimbel, the commissioner of business affairs and consumer protection, says one driver had 27 red-light tickets in one month. She was relieved to learn the driver's license had been taken away because he had exceeded three moving violations in one year.

"I thought, thank goodness, he's off the road," she says.

Another driver, with 11 red-light ticket violations, is being called in for a conference with the licensing agency.

The Chicago Police Department is also sending Consumer Protection a list every two weeks of cab drivers involved in arrests, incidents of reckless driving and accident reports.

In the past, Krimbel says, "the way we found out about a taxi cab being involved in an accident is we saw it in the paper and then we tried to zoom in online to get the taxi cab number. Now, police tell us."

And every month the city agency is now getting data from the Illinois Secretary of State's office on cab drivers who have been convicted of moving traffic violations.

"Now I can see patterns," the commissioner said. "I have a much better sense now of who the city is licensing to drive cabs. Much better than I ever had before. I think it's very exciting."

Krimbel credits the CBS 2 report. She credits a city idea that now requires cab drivers to have a sign on the back of their cabs directing drivers and pedestrians to jot down the taxi license number of any cab they see driving recklessly.

The commissioner credits the new stickers with a huge increase in the number of complaints received from the public. She said it went from 625 in May 2011 to 2,342 in May 2012.

Krimbel has been the commissioner for a year. She says the number of cab licenses that have been revoked or not renewed has doubled over previous years.

And she says cab companies are notified about all those drivers so they don't hire them.

"And if they lease to them and they have an accident the company will be liable as well as the driver," Krimbel says.

To file complaints, call 3-1-1 or contact the agency.

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