LANCASTER, N.Y. (WIVB)–In the wake of one of the state’s deadliest traffic accidents, lawmakers have approved a package of 10 new laws aimed at making limousines safer, in a three-way deal worked out by Gov. Andrew Cuomo with leaders in the State Senate and Assembly.
Legislators gathered for the momentous and emotional announcement at the State Capitol with the families of those killed in two limousine crashes–the Schoharie County accident of October, 2018, that took 20 lives, and a tragedy on Long Island in 2015 that killed 4.
The legislative package includes drug and alcohol testing for limo drivers who will also be required to get a CDL, or commercial driver’s license, if they are driving 9 or more passengers.
Sen. Tim Kennedy who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee said limousines will be required to have seatbelts and pass a rigid inspection regime.
“Any vehicle that should not be one the road in the first place can be seized or impounded immediately.”
Investigators found the stretch limo that was involved in the Schoharie crash had failed three inspections, and should not have even been on the road at the time of the accident.
Kevin Barlow, president of the Limousine Bus Taxi Operators of Upstate New York, believes better cooperation between the State DMV, Department of Transportation, and law enforcement could have prevented that tragedy.
“Of how these vehicles are registered, how these vehicles are inspected, and how these drivers are qualified to drive these. That would make it much safer.”
Limousine operators will also be required to carry much more expensive insurance coverage, and while these changes have not taken effect, Barlow said the changes are already taking a toll on smaller companies.
“Unfortunately some of them have already called me and said, ‘you know what? I don’t think I will be able to make it through this wave.’ With the regulation that keeps hitting us, and new laws, they just don’t think they are going to be able to sustain this.”
Barlow, who also owns Giorgio’s Limousine Service in Lancaster, said two smaller limousine operators in the Rochester area have already thrown in the towel just this year.
The limousine safety legislation becomes law as soon as it is signed by Governor Cuomo, after he returns from Puerto Rico which is recovering from a major earthquake.