Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a three-way agreement with Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on a limousine safety regulation package.
The 10- point package introduces new safety regulations such as: seatbelt requirements, immobilization of defective limousines, increased penalties for illegal u-turns, GPS requirements, customer service resource requirements, regular validation of vehicle and driver safety information, new commercial driver’s license requirements for limousine drivers, creation of a passenger task force and drug and alcohol testing.
“These comprehensive reforms will give authorities much-needed new powers to get dangerous vehicles off the road, weed out bad actors and put into place common sense safety standards that will increase public safety in every corner of New York, ”Governor Cuomo said. “The horrific crashes that sparked this action shook this state to its very core and we stand with those who lost loved ones in these accidents and worked tirelessly to help prevent future tragedies once and for all.”
“Limousines and celebrations usually go hand-in-hand, and the Senate Democratic Majority wants to keep it that way,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “The crashes that have taken place because of unsafe limos and lax regulations are tragedies, and we have a responsibility to address this problem. The Senate Majority stands, and grieves, with the families who lost loved ones to limo crashes and who turned that suffering into activism. These bills, which have the support of the Senate Majority, Assembly Majority, and Governor Cuomo, will help improve safety, hold companies accountable, and save lives.”
“Limos are so often the vehicle of choice for joyous occasions – weddings, proms and special events. But we have seen too many turn into tragedy,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said. “The bills we pass today build on the progress we made in last year’s budget, creating necessary oversight for the for-hire limousine industry and ensuring they are held accountable. These critical reforms will mean safer vehicles, safer roads and saved lives.”
Chair of the Committee on Transportation Senator Timothy M. Kennedy said, “By passing this comprehensive package of legislation, the Senate and Assembly are strengthening standards across New York State, and changing the way the industry is regulated to ensure passenger safety is prioritized. The families who lost loved ones in the limo crashes in Schoharie and Cutchogue were instrumental in the pursuit of these reforms, their commitment to make New York safer will undoubtedly prevent other families from experiencing the same heartbreak they have endured. I thank Governor Andrew Cuomo, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Speaker Carl Heastie for working alongside us to fast-track this historic deal, and I look forward to seeing these important measures enacted.”
Chair of the Committee on Transportation Assemblyman William B. Magnarelli said, “Horrific crashes right here in New York State have drawn national attention to the inadequacies of our state’s traffic safety laws regarding limousines. Limos present a unique set of safety challenges for both drivers and passengers alike. My legislation will help address some of these deficiencies by ensuring these vehicles are equipped with seatbelts, limo drivers are being held to the same standard as drivers of other high-occupancy vehicles and that we continue to study these safety issues and make necessary changes down the road.”
Seatbelt Requirements (S. 6191C/A. 9057)
This legislation provides that motor vehicles converted into stretch limousines on or after January 1, 2021 have at least 2 safety belts for the front seat and at least one safety belt in the rear for each passenger the vehicle was designed to hold, as well as requiring all stretch limousines to be retrofitted to include seatbelts by January 1, 2023.
New Commercial Driver’s License Requirements for Limousine Drivers (S. 6192A/A.8474A)
This legislation requires individuals operating limousines carrying 9 or more passengers, including the driver, to have a passenger endorsed commercial driver’s license.
Immobilization and Impoundment of Defective Limousines (S. 6193C/A. 9056)
This legislation allows the Commissioner of Transportation to impound or immobilize stretch limousines in certain situations and provides that an impounded motor vehicle will not be released unless the Commissioner provides written notice that the vehicle has passed re-inspection. Any release of a vehicle without approval by the Commissioner will be punishable by a fine of up to $10,000.
Increased Penalties for Illegal U-Turns (S. 6188B/A.8172B)
Violations will be subject to a $250 to $400 fine and/or up to 15 days imprisonment. Second violations in eighteen months will be subject to a $600 to $750 fine and/or up to 45 days imprisonment. Violations involving a stretch limousine making an illegal u-turn while carrying at least one passenger would be subject to a $750 to $1,000 fine and/or up to 180 days imprisonment.
GPS Requirements for Limousines (S. 6187C/A. 9058)
This legislation requires stretch limousines to use GPS technology designed specifically for commercial vehicles and meeting federal standards.
New Customer Service Resources (S. 6185B/A.8214B)
This legislation requires the Commissioners of Transportation and Motor Vehicles to establish, maintain, monitor and publicize a telephone hotline operated and maintained by the Department of Motor Vehicles used to report safety issues with stretch limousines and safe limo website maintained by the Department of Transportation. The DOT and DMV may investigate the reports generated by the hotline and use verified information from those reports in their enforcement actions.
Driver’s License Validation (S. 6604B/A.9059)
This legislation requires that every motor carrier furnish the Department of Motor Vehicles a list of each altered motor vehicle designed to carry 9 or more passengers and requires that the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles annually review the bus driver files of each driver employed by a motor vehicle carrier who operates a stretch limousine, along with publishing various safety metrics. DMV must annually update its website to provide information on motor carriers operating stretch limousines and data on limousine operations and drivers.
Creation of Passenger Task Force (S. 6189C/A.1316C)
This legislation establishes the stretch limousine passenger safety task force to conduct a comprehensive review of matters influencing the safety, adequacy, efficiency and reliability of stretch limousine transportation.
Drug and Alcohol Testing (S. 6186B/A.712A)
This legislation will require that large for-hire vehicle drivers and motor carriers be subject to pre-employment and random drug and alcohol testing.
Seatbelt Use in Taxi and Livery Vehicles (S. 7134/A.8990)
This legislation expands seatbelt use requirements in for-hire vehicles.
Senator James Gaughran said, “Today we are taking action on important limo safety legislation that will protect passengers and drivers alike. These bills, including mandatory seat belts and cracking down on illegal U-turns, are critical safety measures that will prevent tragic crashes like the one just a few years ago in Cutchogue, from happening again. I thank the brave and tireless advocacy of the families of the Cutchogue and Schoharie crashes for being the driving force behind today’s bills and fighting for safety.”
Senator Rachel May said, “A graduation or wedding should be one of the best times of your life. You shouldn’t worry about whether the limo service you hire will get you home safely at the end of the day. My bill will make it easier for safety issues to be reported to the Commissioner of Transportation. We have seen too many preventable tragedies because limousines weren’t well-maintained or regularly inspected. New Yorkers deserve better oversight.”
Senator James Sanders, Jr. said, “This bill is important in insuring the safety of both pedestrians and motorists. It is vital that the DMV have up-to-date records regarding stretch limousine companies and their drivers, especially when it comes to defects and crashes. As we all know a car can be a dangerous weapon if not operated properly, and when we think about vehicles that are even larger like stretch limousines that often transport many people, we have to be even more cautious.”
Senator Anna Kaplan said, “The unimaginable tragedies that took place in Cutchogue and Schoharie were a rude awakening for all New Yorkers about the safety of stretch limousines. As lawmakers, we have a duty to families across the state to take action to prevent such senseless tragedy from ever happening again, and I’m very proud to sponsor legislation as part of that effort to keep our residents safe.”
Senator Jen Metzger said, “The devastating loss of lives from the 2018 crash in Schoharie was a call to action for stronger laws to keep people safe on our roads. My bill to mandate drug and alcohol testing for limo drivers and other for-hire vehicles, along with the other urgent legislation that we passed today, will save lives and prevent future tragedies. I want to thank Senate Transportation Chair Tim Kennedy for championing this vital package of legislation.”
Senator Brad Hoylman said, “In 2018 alone, there were 40 fatal or critical injury crashes in taxis and livery vehicles. Seat belts are a proven way to save lives and prevent serious injuries — and as the horrific crash in Schoharie shows us, not wearing a seat belt can have tragic consequences. That’s why it’s so important for every passenger in a taxi or for-hire vehicle to buckle up. Thanks to the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the new Senate Majority is passing common-sense legislation to ensure all New Yorkers are safe.”
Assemblymember Amy Paulin said, “Today’s legislative action will make stretch limousines safer for drivers, passengers and everyone on our roads. The bills enacted will bring oversight and reform to every aspect of the limousine industry, from licensing and inspection to the use of seatbelts and GPS. I believe these changes will save lives and prevent future tragedies.”
Assemblymember Angelo Santabarbara said, “The tragic limousine crash in Schoharie that claimed the lives of 20 people was deemed the worst transportation disaster in nearly a decade. This horrific event left a scar on our community and the need for updated laws governing stretch limousines is apparent. These bills are aimed at strengthening regulations and improving standards to ensure the safety of passengers. It’s important that we get this legislative package signed into law a soon as possible to prevent tragedies like this from happening again.”
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