LIMOS & SEATBELTS

We recently wrote about school buses and seatbelts, see blog of October 2, 2019. As a result of the limousine accident in Schoharie County, New York on October 6, 2018, Federal investigators issued new safety recommendations for limousines seeking to improve dangerous seating issues. 20 people died in that limousine crash. The new safety measures focused on the lack of lap and shoulder seatbelts and modifications made to stretch limos that would reduce the chances that passengers could survive such crashes. Federal safety experts also called on New York to improve it regulations and laws controlling inspection of limos. The regulators claim that the 20 deaths were part of a complex breakdown of government oversight and accountability according to The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

According to an article in The Journal News on October 3, 2019 by David Robinson, the NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt spoke to the potential for saving lives across the Country if limo seating safety fixes are implemented.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends:

Require lap/shoulder belts for each passenger seating position on all new vehicles modified to be used as limousines;

Require that seating systems installed in new vehicles modified to be used as limousines meet minimum performance standards to ensure their integrity during a crash;

In addition to the regular state inspection process, ensure that seatbelts are functional and accessible in all limousines in the State and equipped with the passenger seatbelts.

The National Limousine Association should educate member limousine operators on the life-saving benefits of proper seatbelt use and recommend that they develop methods to (1) ensure that seatbelts are functional and accessible to the passengers and (2) encourage passengers to use them. State and Federal law makers reacted swiftly to the report.

The New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner, Marie Theresa Dominguez disputed aspects of the federal investigator’s findings regarding inspections. The NTSB already recommended New York incorporate the inspection of seatbelts for functionality and accessibility into the biannual vehicle inspection process and that this has been the standard protocol since the early 1990’s. Dominguez also spoke to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s push requiring passengers to wear seatbelts in New York. Dominguez said “it is extremely unfortunate these important measures have been repeatedly rejected by the Legislature. We urge all law makers to join this crucial public safety effort and finally pass the requirement into law during the next session.”

On the Federal level, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, D-NY, described the report as a roadmap to improving limo safety in the wake of the loss suffered by Schoharie and Montgomery communities. “The NTSB’s new safety recommendations have shown that we can, and absolutely must, do more to close the fatal gaps in limo safety standards that contributed to the Schoharie County tragedy.”

If you or a loved one has been injured in a limo accident, contact the Law Firm of Dominick J. Robustelli & Associates, PLLC at (914) 288-0800 or at our website of WhitePlains-Injury-Lawyer.com or on our new web name of Robustelli Personal Injury Law NY.com