Take a look at the guy behind the wheel. He's a taxi driver, driving through Boston, and he's on his cell phone.

What he doesn't know: we're the passengers in his back seat and we have a hidden camera.

What he does know, since he had to pass a test to get his hackney license the rules say "Driver may not use a cellular telephone for any purpose."

Hank Phillippi Ryan, 7NEWS"Could it be dangerous?"

Captain Robert Ciccolo, Boston Police Hackney Division"Oh, absolutely it could be dangerous. When you are on the phone and you are driving, you are not giving 100 percent of your attention to the driving."

But we took cabs across the city and time after time the meter went on, the driver pulled away from the curb, and the phone conversation began.

This time. And this time And this time.

Passengers may not realize it's not allowed, but they do realize it happens all the time.

Cab customer"A lot of times, I get in and they're on the phone."

Cab customer"Almost every time I take a cab."

Cab customer"100% of the time I would say."

From here to there. Talking. Here to there.

One hand on the steering wheel and the other on the phone. Hands free also against the rules.

You certainly would not get in the car with a drunk driver, and one study shows using a cell phone is just as risky.

Bill Bailey, Insurance Information Institute"This is the most dangerous distraction you could have to a driver."

Of course in a cab the driver isn't the only one in the car.

Russ Rader, Insurance Highway Safety Institute"Drivers are at a heightened risk of crashing when they're using a cell phone, meaning anyone who's in the vehicle with them is at a heightened risk as well."

Hank Phillippi Ryan, 7NEWS"These are some of the pictures that we shot."

Captain Robert Ciccolo, Boston Police Hackney Division"The Boston Police Hackney Division oversees taxi drivers."

Hank Phillippi Ryan, 7NEWS"What do you think when you see this?"

Captain Robert Ciccolo, Boston Police Hackney Division"I get annoyed, because they all know it's the rule."

If Boston Police Hackney officers catch a cabbie on the phone they can suspend their license, but last year that happened just three times. Problem is: there are 5,400 cab drivers and 15 officers.

Hank Phillippi Ryan, 7NEWS"If we can find them, why can't you find them?"

Captain Robert Ciccolo, Boston Police Hackney Division"There's limited resources we can devote to this particular problem. Statistically it's probably in their favor. On the other hand we rely a lot on customer complaints."

Hank Phillippi Ryan, 7NEWS"Police say the millions of passengers a year can level the playing field. Write down the cabs medallion number and drivers name–report them to police–and they will follow up."

(Copyright (c) 2009 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)





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