Last year’s deadly limo crash in upstate New York may be a watershed moment for the industry as it continues to face scrutiny over the safety of its vehicles.
New York has vowed to pass a new round of regulations in the hopes of preventing another tragedy.
And the crash, which killed 20 people, has raised new questions over whether consumers should rely on regulators to ensure the limos they ride in are being properly inspected — particularly as the season nears for proms, wedding and wine tours.
A review by the USA TODAY Network New York found a scattershot system of oversight across the country. States often develop their own rules with limited enforcement over limos that are cut and “stretched” aftermarket and lack the same safety features as passenger vehicles.
“When it comes to stretch limousine construction and oversight, there is an element of Frankenstein involved,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council, a nonprofit in Illinois, and a former chair of the National Transportation Safety Board.
The cause of the October crash that killed 17 passengers, its driver and two pedestrians outside a popular country store in Schoharie, a small town outside of Albany, remains under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.
It was the most deadly transportation crash in the U.S. in nearly a decade.
Safety advocates are now warning riders to take extra precautions before they use limos, and businesses that benefit from the trips, such as tourist spots and wineries, are hopeful any backlash won’t hurt their number of visitors.