Investigators are still searching for the cause of a fatal limousine accident in upstate New York that killed 20 people. While families mourn the loss of their loved ones, one senator is calling for stricter safety regulations in limousines.
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York has called on the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to investigate future limo crashes across the country to gather information on how to improve safety regulations for the vehicles.
“Stretch limos exist in a gray area,” said Schumer. “They’re not a car. They’re not a bus. And that’s the problem. They fall through the regulatory cracks and there are no safety standards for them. That has to change.”
He claims that multiple crashes that should have been investigated have not been investigated. He claims that data from these crashes could help limit future crashes, offering vital safety data and insights into the safety components of limousines.
Factory limos are required to meet stringent safety guidelines, but many companies opt to turn luxury cars into limos. The companies do not buy a limo that is complete, instead, they purchase a luxury vehicle and convert them into limousines.
Regulations for modified limos vary from state-to-state and the federal government does little to govern limos once they leave the factory.
Modified vehicles are often cut in half and extended, but when the extension occurs, many of the original protections of the vehicle are removed in the process. Airbags and rollover pillars are rendered useless in many cases.
The fatal crash involved a modified vehicle.
The vehicle in question was extended to fit 18 people, up from 9 which is was originally built to hold. The vehicle had failed New York State inspections with the last failure just a month before the deadly accident. The driver of the vehicle was not properly licensed to operate the vehicle.
Mr. Schumer notes that the NTSB was given the authority to investigate limousine accidents as far back as 2015, but the NTSB has not conducted another investigation since 2016. He has put the blame on the NTSB due to their lack of recent investigations which may have provided vital safety data that could protect against future crashes.
Between 2012 and 2016 there were 12 crashes that led to a dozen deaths in the United States involving limousines.
Preliminary reports of the accident were expected to be ready within the “next few weeks.” The NTSB claims that they know of Mr. Schumer’s request that they do more to investigate crashes.