10.12.18

SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND CALL ON NTSB TO COMPLETE A THOROUGH INVESTIGATION INTO STRETCH LIMOUSINE ACCIDENT AND ISSUE CONCRETE SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS IMMEDIATELY

Last Week, 20 Lives Were Tragically Lost In A Stretch Limousine Accident In Schoharie; Schumer, Gillibrand Today Thanked The National Transportation Safety Board For Their Rapid Response To The Crash And Urged Equally Prompt Review And New Roadmap For Safety Regulations

Senators To NTSB: Leave No Stone Unturned In Your Investigation Into Stretch Limousine Safety

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today thanked the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for their immediate response to the tragic limousine crash that killed 20 people in Schoharie, NY on October 7th, 2018, and called on the agency to conduct and conclude a thorough investigation into this accident, that should include specific new recommended safety requirements for altered stretch limousines that protect passengers, drivers, those in other vehicles and bystanders. The senators said that there have been a limited number of altered limousine accidents investigated by the NTSB over the years, and expressed their concern that, as a result, there are significant gaps in the safety requirements for the vehicles. The senators said that the crash in Schoharie, the deadliest transportation accident in nine years, demonstrates the extreme danger of putting unsafe limousines on the road and that the work of the NTSB will be invaluable in helping prevent such accidents from happening in the future. 

“This was the most deadly transportation accident in almost a decade, and we must do everything in our power to never witness such a tragedy again,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why I’m calling on the NTSB to quickly conduct and conclude an extensive investigation into this crash – and the lack of stretch limousine safety requirements as a whole –  and issue their new safety recommendations with all due haste. I can’t thank NTSB enough for jumping into action following the horrific limousine accident in Schoharie last week, but more must be done. The loss of life experienced in the Schoharie crash is overwhelming and must not be repeated, and I’ll work hand-in-hand with Senator Gillibrand and the NTSB to ensure that it isn’t.”

“My heart goes out to the families and everyone who lost loved ones over last weekend’s devastating limousine accident in Schoharie. What happened was nothing short of tragic,” said Senator Gillibrand. “We need to make sure that something like this never happens again, and I’m calling on the National Transportation Safety Board to complete a thorough investigation into the accident and issue emergency safety recommendations for stretch limousines as soon as possible. We already know there’s an unacceptable lack of federal regulations for these vehicles, and the federal government has an obligation to put in place safety standards. These standards could make the difference between life and death.”

Schumer and Gillibrand praised and thanked NTSB for their quick reaction to the recent stretch limousine accident in Schoharie. Specifically, the senators said they appreciated the immediate response of the NTSB family assistance and investigative teams, as well as NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt and Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg for personally traveling to the site of the crash. The senators said that the NTSB is the nation’s premier safety agency and that it has done a remarkable job in identifying gaps in the United States’ safety requirements.

Schumer and Gillibrand said that while there are considerable statutes, regulations, and recommendations for automobile safety, they are concerned that there are significant gaps in the safety requirements for altered limousines. And, given how deadly the crashes are and how little information is made available following the accidents, more specific safety recommendations are needed from the agency. The senators explained that NTSB did investigate the tragic motorcoach accident in Cranbury, NJ in 2014, but that there are still a limited number of accidents that NTSB has investigated, and to date a limited number of safety recommendations or changes made to ensure passenger, driver and pedestrian safety in stretch limousine-related travel.

According to Schumer and Gillibrand, the process of cutting and adapting vehicles to make stretch limousines significantly alters the safety features required on passenger cars – often rendering them useless. The senators implored NTSB to leave no rock unturned in this investigation and look into the safety risks and current regulations for stretch limousines. Specifically, Schumer and Gillibrand called on NTSB to investigate driver qualifications and any relevant human factors, vehicle inspections, vehicle requirements, and vehicle adaption standards, as well as any necessary evaluations of the intersections. Following the limousine crashes in 2015 in New Jersey and Long Island, the senators explained there is a growing need to create more stringent regulations for stretch limousines.

Schumer and Gillibrand explained that NTSB limousine safety recommendations will help guide the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and Congress to establish better laws and regulations to increase the safety of stretched limousines for passengers, drivers, those in other vehicles and pedestrians. The senators encouraged NTSB, as it conducts its review, to partner with FMSCA and NHTSA to make concrete recommendations designed to prevent another horrific stretch-limousine crash from happening. The senators urged NTSB to thoroughly and expeditiously conduct their review and, as appropriate, issue any immediate findings and recommendations that protect passengers, drivers, those in other vehicles and bystanders. The senators said Congress, NHTSA, and FMCSA all rely on the information found by NTSB, investigations to create safety statutes, regulations, and recommendations, and that they stand ready to take action to get the necessary safety measures in place.

A copy of the Schumer and Gillibrand’s letter to NTSB appears below.

Dear Chairman Sumwalt,

We write today to thank the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for your immediate response to the limousine crash in Schoharie New York on October 7th, 2018 that tragically killed 20 people. We appreciate the immediate response of the NTSB family assistance and investigative teams – as well as you and Vice Chairman Landsberg personally traveling to the site. This crash, the deadliest transportation accident in nine years, demonstrates the extreme danger of putting unsafe limousines on the road and your work will be invaluable helping to ensure accidents like this do not continue to happen.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is our nation’s premier safety agency and has done a remarkable job over the years in identifying gaps in our nation’s safety requirements. As you are aware, there are considerable statutes, regulations, and recommendations for automobile safety, but we are concerned that there may be significant gaps in the safety requirements for altered limousines given how deadly the crashes are and how little information is available following these accidents. While NTSB did investigate the tragic motor coach accident in Cranbury, NJ in 2014, there are a limited number of accidents the NTSB has investigated and therefore a limited availability of safety recommendations. The process of cutting and adapting vehicles to make stretch limousines significantly alters the safety features required on passenger cars – often rendering them useless. We implore you to leave no rock unturned in this investigation and look into the safety risks and current regulations for stretch limousines including: compliance with federal regulations, driver qualifications and any relevant human factors, vehicle inspections, vehicle requirements, and vehicle adaption standards, as well as any necessary evaluations of the intersections.  Following the limousine crashes in 2015 in New Jersey and Long Island there is a growing need to create more stringent regulations for stretch limousines.

Recommendations from NTSB will help guide the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and Congress to establish better laws and regulations to increase the safety of stretched limousines for passengers, drivers, those in other vehicles and pedestrians. As you conduct your review we encourage a partnership with FMSCA and NHTSA to make concrete recommendations designed to prevent another horrific stretch-limousine crash from happening.  We urge you to thoroughly and expeditiously conduct this review and, as appropriate, issue any immediate findings and recommendations that protects passengers, drivers, those in other vehicles and bystanders.  Congress, NHTSA, and FMCSA rely on the information found by NTSB, investigations to create safety statutes, regulations, and recommendations and we stand ready to take action to get the necessary safety measures in place.

We appreciate your attention to this important issue, should you need further information please do not hesitate to contact our offices.

Sincerely,

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