IN MIDST OF PROM & WEDDING SEASON, SCHUMER PUSHES PLAN TO ADVANCE BROAD LIMO SAFETY REFORMS USING FEDERAL TRANSPO ‘MOST WANTED LIST’; PRIORITY SAFETY DESIGNATION WOULD HELP DRIVE FWD NATIONAL REFORMS FAMILIES & ADVOCATES ARE DESPERATE TO ACHIEVE
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Has A Special “Most Wanted” List For 2019-2020; This Critical List Lays Out The Major Reforms The Premier Safety Agency Will Push In Year Ahead—But, Despite 25 Pages Of Priorities, Major Limo Safety Reforms Aren’t Anywhere To Be Found
Senator Says While We Await More Data From Recent Crashes, We Can’t Just Park Plans To Reform Limo Safety, Especially On Commonsense Measures Like Seatbelts, Airbags & Inspections
Schumer To NTSB: America’s ‘Most Wanted’ Limo Reforms Can’t Stall
Standing with Long Island families desperate to see more action on limo safety reforms, and in the midst of prom and wedding season, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer pushed a plan, today, that can help advance the broad limo reforms families seek at the federal level. Schumer explained that the National Transportation Safety (NTSB) can prioritize and advance specific policy if it is listed on the safety agency’s “Most Wanted List.” Schumer said that adding efforts to gather more data from limo crashes and noting the need for specific reforms that enhance commonsense measures like seatbelts, airbags and inspections will spur the feds to move faster on driving forward with the national changes needed to make these vehicles safer.
“Long Island families have bravely led the charge on making aftermarket limousines safer, and they have had some success, but there is more work to be done on substantive reforms that take stretch limos out of the grey area of law. This work begins and advances with the NTSB making aftermarket limo safety an agency priority. Adding this life-saving directive to the federal ‘Most Wanted List’ will help us drive forward the larger reforms families and advocates are desperate to achieve,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.
Schumer detailed the 2019-2020 NTSB “Most Wanted List” as it stands and expressed concern that despite twenty-five pages of priorities, the report fails to include substantive goals that would help achieve major limo reforms. Schumer and Long Island families made the case for the NTSB to put a “most wanted” focus on limos and detailed why this must be done ASAP, in concert with other work the NTSB is doing.
Schumer explained the National Transportation Safety Board’s issuance of the 2019-2020 ‘Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements’ which aims to close safety gaps and make recommendations based off of lessons learned from previous accidents. He emphasized that this list is the NTSB’s premier advocacy tool, yet there is only one, minor recommendation for the National Limousine Association: “Develop and distribute guidelines to your member operators urging them, during pre-trip safety briefings, to (1) direct passengers to use seatbelts where required by law and strongly encourage passengers to use seat belts where not required by law, and (2) encourage passengers to use properly adjusted head restraints.” Schumer laments that after all that has happened with aftermarket stretch limos, and the tragedies, that there are much more critical safety improvements to be made for limo safety. Schumer urges that the NTSB must create a more accurate, detailed and rigorous ‘road map from lessons learned to lives saved’ by including limo reforms on its ‘Most Wanted List.’
Schumer argued that the ‘Most Wanted List’ should include the ‘most needed’ safety recommendations and address such recommendations to all 50 states. The NTSB’s ‘Most Wanted List’ should ensure proper seatbelts and airbags, including side airbags, exist on all aftermarket stretch limos, in addition to subjecting all stretch limos to an annual federal Department of Transportation (DOT) inspection, Schumer said.
Prior to today’s push, and in the wake of the tragic upstate limo crash, Schumer made the case for the NTSB to re-commit to investigating limo crashes and reiterated that there are significant gaps in the safety standards required for stretch limos and other similar aftermarket altered motor vehicles. Too often, secondary market manufacturers alter limos after they’ve been produced by the vehicle’s original manufacturer. These secondary market changes may be superficial changes to the vehicle or may be more drastic; for instance, changes may include adding length to the vehicle chassis, blocking or removing emergency exists, changing the vehicle’s weight or changing the vehicle’s seating positions which can impact its occupancy limitations. Therefore, many stretch limos can lack certain basic safety features like the necessary number of side impact air bags, reinforced rollover protection bars, structurally sound frames, accessible emergency exists and properly installed seatbelts that can save passengers’ lives and first responders in the event of a crash. Considering all these significant gaps in limo safety, Schumer argues that the NTSB should make equally significant recommendations in their ‘Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements.’
In his successful 2015 push for the NTSB to begin investigating limo crashes, Schumer pointed to a number of crashes that could have potentially been mitigated if stronger safety requirements had been implemented. For instance, in 2013 a limo traveling on a bridge in San Francisco caught fire and passengers were trapped without an accessible exit. And, in June 2014, a limo bus and a tractor trailer collided, killing one passenger and injuring two, including the well-known comedian Tracey Morgan. Schumer also pointed to the 2015 Long Island crash, and the tragic upstate, New York crash that killed 18 limo passengers as he urges the NTSB to act. Schumer is also pushing the NTSB to use the preliminary accident investigation report that is soon to be released to include immediate safety recommendations that should be enacted right away or included in the 2019-2020 ‘Most Wanted’ list.
This past October, as reported by the New York State Police, a 2001 Ford Excursion limousine was traveling southwest on Route 30 upstate and failed to stop at the Route 30A intersection in Schoharie, N.Y. The limo traveled across the intersection into the Apple Barrel County Store parking lot and struck a parked and unoccupied 2015 Toyota Highlander. The limo continued to travel into a small wooded ravine where it came to a rest. The accident tragically took the lives of all 18 people in the limousine and two pedestrians, 20 people in total. According to wide reports, this was America’s deadliest transport accident since 2009.
In 2015, a collision between a pickup truck and a stretch limousine on the North Fork of Long Island killed four woman and injured others. According to the Suffolk Times, the limousine attempted to make a U-turn on Route 48 in Cutchogue, N.Y. when a Dodge Ram pickup truck collided with the limo. Following this tragic accident, Senator Schumer urged the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to gather data needed to upgrade safety standards on stretch limos and other aftermarket altered motor coaches to better protect passengers and make the vehicles more crash resistant.
In September of 2015, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) heeded Schumer’s original investigatory call and agreed to investigate future limousine accidents as they occur on a case-by-case basis. Schumer is hopeful the agency also follows through on his new request to add the issue to the “Most Wanted” list, which will help advance the critical reforms so many families are desperate to achieve.
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