BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Amber Farnsworth had just finished shopping Friday afternoon at the Tops market off Harlem Road when she needed a cab.
It was warm outside, and she was with her 4-year-old son. So she called up Liberty using the business’ specific app. She hopped in the car, but what she saw made her retrieve her phone and start taping the driver.
Farnsworth started taping the driver, Balde Mamadou, within seconds of closing the door. She could hear the dialogue from the program he was watching.
“As soon as he got out of the parking lot, I knew that he had his tablet on,” Farnsworth said. “He just kept glancing down, and that bothered me because of my son.”
News 4 took Amber’s concerns to Liberty Yellow Cab president Bill Yuhnke. He looked up the driver’s information from Amber’s fare using a high-tech system that tracks drivers’ locations, ETAs and passengers. Some cars are equipped with video cameras that provide live feeds from the road back to base.
When News 4 stopped by Yuhnke’s Kenmore Avenue business, Mamadou was still in the parking lot, getting ready for his next fare.
Bill brought Mamadou inside to view the video from Farnsworth’s cell phone.
At first, Balde says he was looking at his GPS.
But Liberty Cab already has an all in one device for that.
“If someone is watching video, or says they’re using GPS, that’s all included in our device,” Yuhnke said. “So there’s really no reason for anything else to be running.”
Yuhnke said there’s no room for any distractions on the road.
“I personally would be totally offended and upset if I was in the backseat of that taxicab,” he said. “I don’t expect my customers to be treated any differently. And so I appreciate that she has taken the effort to contact us.”
Farnsworth said she intends to continue using Liberty cab service, because it’s always been reliable, quick and safe. That’s why she wants the situation known.
“He can’t do this,” she said. “He’s putting people’s lives at risk. And I would like Liberty to take action on this to make sure their drivers aren’t driving distracted. It happens too much.”
Yuhnke says action will be taken and it will be swift. The driver will now have to ride with a supervisor in his car and a camera will be installed so Liberty can see a live feed for each and every fare. Bill also says he wants to maintain Amber as a customer and he says he’ll take every step necessary to do just that.