A package of legislation aimed at making limousines safer across New York has been signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The 10-point package includes 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.
The legislative package was approved by both chambers in Albany, and went to the Governor’s desk for signing after the tragedy in Schoharie.
“These far-reaching reforms deliver much-needed protections that will help keep dangerous vehicles off our roadways, crack down on businesses that do not prioritize safety and will give New Yorkers piece of mind when they enter a limo in this state,” Governor Cuomo said. “New York stands with those who lost loved one in the horrific crashes that inspired this legislation and I commend the family members who worked tirelessly to help pass these bills to help prevent future tragedies.”
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins echoed those sentiments. “Limousines and celebrations usually go hand-in-hand, and the Senate Democratic Majority wants to keep it that way. The crashes that have taken place because of unsafe limos and lax regulations are tragedies, and we have a responsibility to address this problem,” she said. “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 I thank the Governor for signing into law, will help improve safety, hold companies accountable, and save lives.”
Here’s a closer look at the individual components that make up this legislative package:
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 upon the creation of 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.
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