Lawmakers pass limo laws amid pressure from crash victims’ families

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The New York State Senate and Assembly passed new limousine safety bills more than a year after the deadly Schoharie limousine crash.

It was the families of the 20 victims that pushed for the passage of the 10 new bills aimed at making limos safer.

“This just can’t happen to anyone else because the laws just were not adequate for the limousine industry,” said Kevin Cushing, father of crash victim, Patrick Cushing.

The Cushing family believes the families of the Schoharie crash victims were the squeaky wheel that got results.

“What’s been kind of rewarding is to watch the senate and the assembly start to work with us,” he said.

Lawmakers announcing a deal struck by Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who recognized the victims’ families.

“It will save the lives, and other families are grateful to you,” said Stewart-Cousins.

The package of 10 bills includes drug and alcohol testing and increased penalties for drivers. It also requires drivers have a CDL if carrying nine or more passengers and requires stretch limousines have seat belts. It also ensures the immobilization of defective limos.

“Any vehicle that should not be on the road in the first place can be seized or impounded immediately,” said Senator Tim Kennedy, Chair of the Transportation Committee.

He says a new task force will look into further regulations.

“Evaluate the need for rear view cameras, airbags, and speed restriction devices,” he said.

Following Kevin Cushing’s remarks, Janet Steenburg, who lost her sons Rich and Axel and her daughter-in-law Amy, approached the podium.

“I just wanted to say thank you,” she said.

Through their visible pain, the families turned tragedy into advocacy. The Cushings hold Patrick’s dodgeball number close. It serves as a constant reminder.

“We wear this to honor him; we wear this to remember that our work isn’t done,” he said. “Our next step is to make sure this gets signed at the state level go on and start working at the federal level.”

Lawmakers say they they’re confident Governor Cuomo will sign the legislation into law.

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