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Discussion turns to limo safety after 20 killed in Schoharie crash

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) - The deadliest transportation accident since 2009 took place in Schoharie on Saturday and has called into question safety regulations that have already failed before in the state for limousines.

“There are seatbelts in the back; they’re required to be, but you’re not required to wear them,” former NTSB Managing Director Peter Goelz said.

Passengers riding in the back of limousines do not have to wear seatbelts in New York. The crash in Schoharie on Saturday is not the first time people have called for changes to limo safety regulations.

“The rule may very well change in the new future,” Goelz said.

Limousines, such as the ones Premiere Transportation in Albany buys, are built in factories and required to meet stringent safety regulations. But it’s when vehicles are converted into limos, there can be gaps in safety features.

“They take the SUV, they cut it in half, they add on 20 feet, and they put it back together,” Premiere Transportation Pres. David Brown said. “But the brakes are the same brakes that it had in the beginning.”

Following the deadly limo crash in 2015 that killed four people, a special grand jury found that vehicles converted into stretch limos lack safety features such as side impact bags and accessible emergency exits. The jury urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to establish a task force on limo safety. Cuomo, however, said on Monday that he does not believe new regulations are the answer.

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“Sometimes the issue is the law worked fine and the regulation worked fine, they were just broken,” he said.

The driver of the limo that crashed over the weekend did not have a commercial license and the limo itself failed the transportation department’s inspection in September and should not have been on the road.

“Sometimes we have laws, we have the regulations, they’re broken,” Cuomo said.

Brown said the regulations in place are satisfactory enough, but he thinks it will help enforce the regulations more.

“If something is questionable, it’s going to fail,” he said. “They are going to really emphasize safety, and again, you have to go with a company that has a proven safety record.”

You can check to see if companies and cars are up-to-date on their safety inspections by going to the Department of Transportation’s website.


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