New Yorkers have little interaction with the transportation workers that bring them from work to culinary class to preschool to home. But their presence is quintessential: subway conductors are there for the cheap rides and taxis are perfect for time crunches or corporate expense accounts. You know that MTA workers have health benefits—oh, you know all about MTA spending—but have you ever considered the health and welfare of taxi drivers?
Gotham Gazette peered into the life of taxi drivers earlier this month and reported some of its findings. Drivers primarily eat fast food for the sake of ease, which leads to high rates of diabetes and blood pressure. Their sedentary jobs also put them at high risk for back, hip, and leg pains. The article included further statistics on health insurance:
A 2001 survey by the New York Taxi Worker’s Alliance found that more than 20 percent of drivers had cardiovascular disease or cancer.
And it is often difficult for taxi drivers to get the health care they need. Another study conducted by the city council in 2009 found that 52 percent of the city’s cabbies are uninsured, twice the rate of the average American.
Drivers often face language and cultural barriers to health care access as well. A 2006 study by a taxi industry consultant found that 91 percent of the city’s taxi drivers were born in another country.
Another report, by StreetEasy, noted that taxi drivers often work in twelve hour shifts, an hour more than federal limits on truck drivers, and questions how safe it is for taxi drivers to carry passengers throughout their long shifts.
If you take the taxi shift switch around 4-5 p.m., then it shows that full taxi shifts span from pre-dawn hours in the morning to the late afternoon and then from late afternoon to very late at night (or early morning).
Consider that next time you curse a driver for refusing a ride during rush hour.