Limousines are associated with special occasions—galas, parties, and prom night. But should they be associated with greater danger on the street?
“These vehicles are death traps. We cannot allow these vehicles to share our roads,” said Mindy Grabina at a recent hearing with New York State lawmakers. “We cannot allow these vehicles to share our roads.” Ms. Grabina’s daughter died in a 2015 limo crash on Long Island, which killed a total of four people.
And New York listened. In June 2019, the State Senate passed nine new safety bills targeted at limos and their drivers. This much-needed decision came after an October 2018 crash in Schoharie in which 20 people were killed. Senator Tim Kennedy (63rd District, Buffalo), chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, stood beside the families of victims as he outlined the new regulations.
“From requiring seatbelts in every vehicle carrying nine or more passengers, to mandating commercial driver’s licenses and drug and alcohol testing for drivers for for-hire vehicles…we’re taking significant steps to ensure safety measures are firmly in place when anyone steps into one of these vehicles,” said Kennedy. In addition, other bills strengthen criminal penalties for limo drivers who violate traffic laws (especially illegal U-turns), increase insurance requirements for for-hire vehicles, make it easier for New York’s DMV to impound vehicles in violation of safety requirements, and mandate commercial GPS systems for limos holding nine or more people.
According to Senator Jim Gaughran (5th District, Long Island), commercial GPS will notify drivers of upcoming sharp curves and speed limits. He added, “And quite frankly, it will also be a tool for the limousine company owner to go back and look and make sure that their drivers were driving safely.”
Another bill would establish a hotline where limo passengers could report their concerns to the New York State Department of Transportation. An app and website would also be provided, giving consumers a direct way to give safety feedback to the DOT.
At the announcement of the Senate’s passage of the bills, the families of recent limo accident victims spoke up. They pointed out that the limousine industry was concerned with the “burden” of the new regulations, but that was nothing compared to burden placed on a victim’s family after the loss of a mother, brother, or child.
This package of nine bills is headed off to the New York State Assembly and should soon enough reach Governor Andrew Cuomo, who promises to sign anything “feasible,” that doesn’t interfere with federal regulations on limos.
Pollack, Pollack, Isaac & DeCicco, LLP applauds these measures. For too long, limousines have been largely unregulated on the streets of New York. We are saddened by the fact that it took two fatal limo accidents, which claimed a total of 24 people, to effect these changes. In an accident between a limo and another vehicle, either driver may be to blame—but the one group of people who are not to blame are the limo’s passengers.
If you’ve been injured while riding in a limousine, please call our NYC car accident lawyers at 212-203-4795. We can investigate the wreck and determine who is liable for your injuries and other losses. We charge no money upfront if we take your case, and only take our fee if we successfully recover compensation for you, through a settlement or a jury verdict.