Last October a horrific stretch limousine crash killed 20 people and rocked the state of New York. As a result, Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to introduce a raft of transportation safety reforms including an outright ban on long limos.
In an event described by the New York Times as the “deadliest U.S accident in nine years,” 17 passengers in a stretched Ford Excursion limousine, the vehicle’s driver, and two pedestrians died in a crash in the small upstate town of Schoharie, NY. The subsequent investigation revealed that the limo had failed its last safety inspection and should not have been on the road.
Gov. Cuomo’s office seems to hope that increased regulation will prevent another similarly tragic incident from happening, and is introducing relevant transportation reforms in the 2019 executive budget.
The short story is that the governor wants to ban the registration of “remanufactured limousines” and prohibit their operation in New York State. Interestingly, the list of proposed reforms also includes making people wear seatbelts in cabs and school buses.
Here’s the whole rundown, per the Governor’s website:
- An outright ban on the registration of remanufactured limousines, prohibiting their operation in New York State;
- Require drivers to hold a Commercial driver license with a special passenger endorsement to operate a for hire vehicle with 8 or more passengers;
- Make it a felony to remove an out of service sticker placed by a DOT inspector from a vehicle without having the vehicle re-inspected and cleared by DOT to return to service; Increase the civil penalty to a maximum fine of $25,000 per violation for any person found operating with suspended DOT operating authority or operating a vehicle without such authority and subject such actors to felony prosecution;
- Establish stronger registration suspension and vehicle impoundment powers, including an explicit process for immediate suspension of operating authority by the DOT Commissioner in circumstances that endanger the health, safety, and welfare of the public;
- Explicitly authorize DOT and DMV to seize suspended license plates;
- Make it a felony for any owner/operator to tamper with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard tag or vehicle inspection sticker;
- Ensure vehicle impoundment occurs for purposes of felony violations and subject multiple violators to the potential for civil forfeiture of vehicle;
- Require mandatory reporting by inspection stations to DMV if a vehicle attempts an unauthorized inspection;
- Create new criminal penalties for any DMV-regulated inspection station that illegally issues an inspection sticker;
- Prohibit U-turns for larger vehicles on all roads within the state;
- Eliminate the exception to seatbelt requirements for limousines, buses, taxis, liveries, and school buses; and
- Establish a DOT inspection fee of $120 per inspection for vehicles subject to such inspection.
I have to imagine the existing limo industry will have a counter proposal soon. Whether or not any of this is enacted into law it remains to be seen, but even a less comprehensive version of this list would mean pretty dramatic changes for transportation regulations in New York.