Tougher limo rules pro­posed

Se­nate bill says stretch ve­hi­cles must come off road af­ter 10 years

Albany Times Union - - FROM THE COVER - Staff re­ports

New reg­u­la­tions for stretch lim­ou­sines are be­ing pro­posed in the state Se­nate in re­sponse to the crash that killed 20 peo­ple in Schoharie last week.

The leg­is­la­tion in­tro­duced on Fri­day by Sen. Sim­cha Felder, a Brook­lyn Demo­crat, would re­quire stretch lim­ou­sines be taken off the road af­ter 10 years, cre­ate new pro­ce­dures if a ve­hi­cle fails a safety in­spec­tion, im­pose a min­i­mum li­a­bil­ity in­sur­ance cov­er­age of $2 mil­lion and dis­play in­spec­tion re­sults on the state Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion web­site.

It would also man­date a “li­cense plate” sized sticker on a pas­sen­ger door in­di­cat­ing the date of the last suc­cess­ful ve­hi­cle in­spec­tion, with the sticker re­placed by a sticker in­di­cat­ing the ve­hi­cle can’t trans­port pas­sen­gers if it fails an in­spec­tion.

“While many limou­sine op­er­a­tors take the safety of their pas­sen­gers and driv­ers se­ri­ously, there seems to be a cer­tain pop­u­la­tion of op­er­a­tors that does not,” reads the bill mem­o­ran­dum. “In an ef­fort to cut cor­ners, they put their pas­sen­gers and driv­ers at risk.”

Pres­tige Limou­sine, the owner of the 2001 Ford Ex­cur­sion that was in­volved in the Schoharie tragedy, was cited dur­ing pre­vi­ous in­spec­tions for lack­ing op­er­at­ing au­thor­ity from the DOT, along with nu­mer­ous safety vi­o­la­tions, in­clud­ing de­fec­tive brakes, in­op­er­a­ble emer­gency ex­its and a dan­gling hy­draulic brake line.

Af­ter each in­spec­tion, Pres­tige had 15 days to cor­rect the prob­lems.

Even if the is­sues were ad­dressed, Pres­tige still re­quired DOT ap­proval to of­fer limo ser­vices.

Ac­cord­ing to the bill mem­o­ran­dum, stretch lim­ou­sines are not de­fined by state law and op­er­ate un­der a “patch­work of reg­u­la­tions.”

New York has changed in­spec­tion pro­ce­dures for so­called stretch ve­hi­cles, shift­ing those pro­ce­dures to the state DOT from the Depart­ment of Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles.

Stretch ve­hi­cles that carry 10 or more peo­ple, in­clud­ing the driver, are now are clas­si­fied as buses.

Felder, who is aligned with the Se­nate Repub­li­cans, has come un­der fire in New York City for hold­ing up leg­is­la­tion that would have reau­tho­rized speed cam­eras around pub­lic schools in the five bor­oughs.

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