Ariz. Field Inspections on Taxi Cabs Show Violations

About 20 percent of taxis pulled over by Arizona inspectors in the past 12 months failed at least one part of an inspection that ensures honest meter readings, licensed drivers, and safe and insured cabs.

Department of Weights and Measures inspectors conducted nearly 1,570 field inspections of cabs from July 2006 to last month, citing 126 vehicles had no insurance or too little insurance. Among other citations, 120 taxis and limousines had improperly sealed, calibrated or installed meters, and 95 drivers did not have valid driver’s licenses, according to field inspection data.

State lawmakers authorized Weights and Measures to inspect taxis in 2004 and the failure rate has fallen from about 50 percent in 2004 to about 22 percent last year.

Weights and Measures’ inspections make sure the approximately 2,200 cabs statewide that are registered have the required $300,000 worth of insurance, a tamper-free meter, posted rates on the cab sides in 3-inch lettering and a registration sticker issued by the department each year.

Complaints of taxi scams have prompted some elected officials to call for stricter taxi oversight by the state and by Phoenix.

Phoenix has no vehicle safety standards or restrictions regarding who drives a cab, be they registered sex offenders, people with multiple convictions for driving while intoxicated, or people without driver’s licenses.

Sky Harbor International Airport does require cab companies to provide proof of insurance and has drivers go through background checks and carry airport-issued identification cards.

Embarrassed by price-gouging at the airport, city officials instituted the regulations in 1986