New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a package of limousine safety bills on Feb. 3 that was inspired by deadly crashes in 2015 and 2018. One of the bills will require that motor vehicles converted into stretch limousines by January 2021 have at least two safety belts for the front seat and one safety belt in the rear for each passenger. All stretch limousines will be required to be retrofitted to include those seat belts by January 2023. Limo drivers carrying nine or more passengers will also need to have a passenger-endorsed commercial driver’s license.
Gov. Cuomo had proposed banning stretch limos altogether but dropped the idea.
In the Oct. 6, 2018 crash in Schoharie, NY, a Ford Excursion SUV, which had been modified into a stretch limo, blew through an intersection and slammed into an embankment, killing the driver, 17 passengers on a birthday outing and two pedestrians. The operator of the company involved in the crash, Nauman Hussain, has pleaded not guilty to 20 counts of criminally negligent homicide and second-degree manslaughter. He awaits trial in March. Just weeks before the crash, the limo had failed a state inspection that examined such things as the chassis, suspension and brakes.
The 2015 wreck on Long Island resulted in the deaths of four young women on a winery tour, when the limo was ‘T-boned” while trying to make a U-turn.
Lawmakers last year passed a budget that increased penalties for operating a limo without proper licensing or violating safety rules. They also authorized state police and transportation officials to seize the license plates of noncompliant vehicles. The bill signings came several months after the National Transportation Safety Board recommended tighter safety belt and passenger seat standards for new vehicles that are stretched into limousines.
Source: The Post-Journal