Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a package of limousine safety bills into law, intended to deal with a series of fatal crashes on Long Island and across the state that resulted in calls to address the problem. The laws specifically address the issue of rented stretch limos, which are commonly hired for formal events like proms, weddings and bar mitzvahs, among other similar events. The hope is that the new measures will reduce the number of fatalities caused by limo crashes every year.
The bills are set to address a number of common problems associated with stretch limos that contribute to higher fatalities when the vehicles get into accidents. For example, as of January 1, 2021, all vehicles converted into stretch limos will need to have a safety belt for every passenger it’s designed to carry, addressing the issue that many stretch limos didn’t have adequate seatbelts for their passengers. All stretch limos will need adequate safety belts installed by January 1, 2023. Any car found not to meet these standards may be impounded, with a fine of up to $10,000 for use of an unsafe limo.
There will be additional measures put in place as well. For example, there will now be a requirement that anyone driving a limo intended to carry nine or more people must have a commercial driver’s license, similar to those required of truck drivers. Additionally, there will be increased fines and potential jail time for any driver who makes illegal U-turns, with penalties of up to $1,000 or six months in jail for anyone who does so with a passenger in the vehicle. Stretch limo drivers will also be subjected to drug and alcohol testing, both upon applying for the position and random testing thereafter.
The reforms were passed in part due to advocacy from the families of people who died previously in limo accidents: in one case, four women died on a winery tour on Long Island when their vehicle made an illegal U-turn; in another, a stretch limo containing friends celebrating a birthday party crashed, resulting in twenty deaths. The plaintiffs are glad at the success, but they see this legislation as only the first step. Their next goal is to get similar legislation passed federally, making sure that limo accidents are less common and less fatal.
Seeking the advice from an attorney experienced in motor vehicle and pedestrian accidents will help assure you get the compensation you deserve. The lawyers at Levine and Slavit, PLLC assist clients in collecting the damages they need to cope with being involved in a pedestrian or motor vehicle accident. For more information or to schedule a consultation with our New York pedestrian and auto accident lawyers, call (888) LAW-8088 or fill out our contact form.