On October 7, 2019, we blogged about the tragic limousine accident in Schoharie County, New York where 20 people died. We discussed the safety measures that could have saved most, if not all, of the limo passengers.
On Tuesday, January 21, 2020, an article was published in The Journal News by Joseph Spector entitled “10 laws planned in wake of the limo crash”. Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders in New York State have agreed on a 10 point package of limousine safety regulations that will be adopted into law. Cuomo stated “the comprehensive reform will give authority much needed new power to get dangerous vehicles off the road, weed out bad actors and put into place common sense safety standards that will increase public safety in every corner of New York”. The Schoharie County limo crash was the result of a poorly maintained limo that suffered catastrophic brake failure. Efforts to get the limo off the road failed for months prior to the crash.
17 passengers, including four sisters, three of their husbands and friends and family were celebrating a birthday all died, as did the driver and two pedestrians at a country store where the limo crashed. “The crashes that have taken place because of unsafe limos and lax regulations are tragedies, and we have a responsibility to address that problem” said Senate Majority Leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers.
The new safety regulations would include:
- Motor vehicles converted into stretch limousines on or after January 1, 2021 have at least two safety belts for the front seat and at least one safety belt in the rear for each passenger as the vehicle was designed to hold. It includes all stretch limousines be retrofitted to include seatbelts as of January 1, 2023;
- The bill mandates that limo drivers carrying nine or more passengers, including the driver, must have a commercial driver’s license;
- The law would allow the State Transportation Commission to impound or immobilize stretch limos and require them to be held until the Commissioner agrees that they have passed re-inspection. Any release of a vehicle without approval by the State Commissioner will be punishable by a fine up to $10,000.00;
- Increased penalties for illegal U turns by limos, the fine for non-compliance would increase to $250 to $400 and up to 15 days in prison if drivers make illegal turns with limos. The second violation within 18 months would be subject to a $600 – $750 fine and/or up to 180 days imprisonment;
- The Legislation would require stretch limousines to use GPS technology designed specifically for commercial vehicles and would meet federal standards;
- New York plans to require the Commissioners of Transportation and motor vehicle departments to establish, maintain, monitor and publicize to a telephone hot line so that the public can report safety issues with stretch limousines. The law would also require the State to establish a “safe limo” website.
- The Legislation would require that every motor vehicle carrier provide the State Department of Motor Vehicles a list of each altered motor vehicle designed to carry nine or more passengers. It would also mandate the State Commissioner to annually review the bus driver file of each limo driver;
- The State would create a “stretch limousine passenger safety task force” to conduct a comprehensive review of the industry such as matters influencing the safety, adequacy, efficiency and reliability of stretch limousine transportation”;
- New York would require for-hire vehicle drivers and motor carriers be subject to pre-employment and random drug and alcohol testing;
- The Legislation expands seat belt use requirement in for-hire vehicles. No person would be able to operate a taxi or livery unless all passengers over the age of 8 wear a seatbelt in taxis. New York is finally joining more than half of the United State that require them.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a taxi or 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