Assemblymember Solages Passes Tough New Limousine Safety Measures

Assemblymember Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont) announced that she passed legislation to improve limousine safety and better protect New Yorkers. These include measures to impose stricter oversight on stretch limousines and drivers, provide easy and accessible ways to report safety issues and create a task force to further study safety issues within the industry. This legislation comes after multiple deadly stretch limousine crashes occurred in New York State in recent years. An October 2018 crash in Schoharie claimed the lives of 20 people – the nation’s deadliest transportation accident in nine years.[1] In July 2015, four passengers were killed and four more were seriously injured in a crash in Cutchogue, Long Island.[2]

“New Yorkers utilize limousines for birthdays, weddings and a host of other special occasions. But we’ve seen some of these joyous days end in devastating heartbreak because the vehicles used to transport our families weren’t safe or the businesses who owned those vehicles were careless with the maintenance,” Solages stated. “These horrific tragedies are a call to action to do everything we can to prevent another senseless crash from occurring. The measures the Assembly passed today will make us safer.”

In the months following the tragedy in Schoharie, it was reported that the State Department of Transportation (DOT) had been investigating the limousine company involved in the crash for more than a year before it occurred. DOT had ordered the limousine off the road twice after it had failed safety inspections.[3] The Assembly Majority passed a measure authorizing the DOT to impound or immobilize stretch limousines that fail a safety inspection until the vehicle is repaired (A.9056) in an effort to avoid preventable accidents.

In addition, the package of legislation includes a bill that would require the DOT and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to establish and publicize a toll-free hotline for individuals to report safety issues regarding stretch limousine vehicles or drivers (A.8214-B). The DOT, along with the DMV, would be authorized to investigate the reports and use verified information from the reports in enforcement actions, as well as submit an annual report on the stated safety issues. Assemblymember Michaelle Solages also helped pass a bill that would require the installation of approved seatbelts that are clearly visible, accessible and in good working condition in all stretch limousines (A.9057).

To further protect passengers, pedestrians and other motorists, the Assembly’s legislative package includes measures to:

  • Require motor carriers to conduct pre-employment and random drug and alcohol testing of drivers who operate stretch limousines, taxis and liveries that hold nine or more passengers including the driver (A.712-A);
  • Require the DMV to maintain and annually update its website to provide information on motor carriers operating stretch limousines (A.9059). This information would include the carrier’s name, location, address and region of operation, the number and nature of the carrier’s violations and data relating to limousine operations and drivers;
  • Establish a stretch limousine passenger safety task force to study and provide a final report of other outstanding safety issues in the limousine industry (A.1316-C);
  • Require drivers of stretch limousines with seating capacities of nine or more passengers including the driver to hold a commercial driver’s license with a passenger endorsement – a license class that mandates more driver training and regular vehicle inspections – and that stretch limousines comply with DOT safety regulations (A.8474-A);
  • Require stretch limousines with seating capacities of nine or more passengers including the driver registered within New York State to use commercial Global Positioning Systems (GPS) technology that meets federal standards (A.9058);
  • Increase penalties for illegal U-turn violations committed by stretch limousine drivers (A.8172-B); and
  • Require taxi and livery passengers aged 16 or older be restrained by a seatbelt regardless of where they are sitting and prohibit persons from operating a taxi or livery vehicle unless all passengers between the ages of 8 and 15 are restrained by seatbelts (A.8990).

“No family or community should ever have to feel this type of pain and suffering again,” Assemblywoman Solages stated. “These changes will make both limousines and our roads safer and ultimately save lives.”