Are Limousines Safe?
The recent tragedy in New York involving the deaths of 17 passengers in a limousine, their driver, and two pedestrians, raises a number of questions about the safety of these vehicles. Was this accident a result of driver error? Was there a mechanical failure of some sort? Are there inherent issues with all limousines? Were any or all of these issues factors in the horrendous loss of life in this, the deadliest of all traffic accidents in the United States since 2005?
Passenger Safety Questionable
It seems that questions around passenger well-being in stretch limousines are not new. Although incidents involving these vehicles don’t make the news every day, historically, when accidents do occur outcomes can be gruesome. Often, the lack of state and federal safety rules can be blamed, at least in part, for those outcomes. In 2013, for example, four women burned to death while trapped in a limousine that was broadsided by a pickup truck. Since that time, California has required that limousines have push out windows and more emergency exits. But not every state has done the same.
In the Sunshine State, no special licensing requirements are in place for limousine chauffeurs. Consumer Affairs requires companies to register and insure vehicles, and they do require safety and mechanical inspections on an annual basis. Seatbelt use is not required for passengers. And while Florida Statute requires liability insurance for limousine companies, regulations directed at safety design are hard to find.
Because stretch limousines are originally regular passenger vehicles or SUVs, they have to be cut apart and have a mid-section installed after they leave the dealer. That can lead to a number of problems. Consider, for example, the vehicles electronic stability controls. They were designed for a smaller, lighter vehicle, and won’t necessarily address the needs of the limousine efficiently. The same is true for the limousine’s roll-over cage, tires, brakes, and other features. The greater mass of the limo strains all the functions that were designed for a smaller passenger vehicle.
In stretch limousines, side airbags are often not present. Seatbelts may or may not be present, but in any case, they generally go unused. So when one of these vehicles is involved in any major impact, passengers have very little protection.
Finding a Safe Ride
What can you do to ensure the safest limousine ride possible? Do a little research. Does the company do the following:
- Require a CDL license for drivers? The licensing requirements are strict, and hold drivers to a higher standard. Drivers are drug tested, written tested, and road tested every year to maintain the license.
- Offer information about vehicles? Are you permitted to visit the site and view the vehicles? Will they provide the VIN number, car code, or plate number in advance?
- Provide insurance information? Will the company provide you with proof of insurance?
- Show evidence of safety Inspections? How often are vehicles inspected? What documentation is available?
- Provide GPS enabled in-car cameras? These are useful in the event of an accident, or near accident.
Following Serious Injury
If you or a loved one suffers serious personal injury or death due to a limousine accident, the experienced, effective personal injury team at Salazar & Kelly Law Group, P.A. has your back. Contact us in Kissimmee, Orlando, or Altamonte Springs for a confidential consultation today.