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Limousine Safety Bills Advancing Through House

Senator Charles Schumer speaks at a press conference in Amsterdam detailing new proposed limousine safety regulations
Michael Apollo
Senator Charles Schumer speaks at a press conference in Amsterdam detailing proposed limousine safety regulations in October 2019

As the second anniversary of a fatal crash that killed 20 people in Schoharie nears, a slate of limousine safety measures is moving forward in the House of Representatives.

On Monday, New York Democratic Representatives Antonio Delgado of the 19th House District and Paul Tonko of the 20th House District announced that a package of limousine safety billswill advance to the House floor.

The limousine safety efforts were first announced on the one-year anniversary of the Schoharie limousine crash in October 2018 and are supported by several members of the New York delegation, including Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik of the 21st District, as well as Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

The legislation is included in a larger House infrastructure bill.

Tonko spoke about developing the legislation with families touched by limousine-involved crashes on a conference call with advocates and Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce.

“We undertook a deep assessment of the chronic failures in America’s limousine safety system. And this limo safety plan is a powerful outcome of our collective effort,” said Tonko.

The Limousine Safety Action Plan includes three bills. The SAFE Limos Act of 2019 provides a federal definition for limousines, includes seatbelt and seating requirements, and sets safety standards for limousines and modified vehicles. Crash safety and inspection requirements are also included.

The Take Unsafe Limos Off the Road Act supports state efforts to impound or immobilize unsafe vehicles.

And the End the Limo Loophole Act redefines vehicles used to transport nine or more passengers as a commercial vehicles.

“With this legislation we take the necessary and long-overdue steps that ensure every limousine on the road complies with federal safety standards. When people get into a limo – or, more importantly, when they put their children into a limo – they should be able to trust that the limousine is safe,” Tonko.

Among the advocates on Tuesday’s conference call, Jason Levine, Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety, praised the limousine bills and several other transportation safety measures included in the so-called Motor Vehicle Safety Title in Moving Forward Act.

“Not only will every new vehicle include features like advanced driver assist systems, these systems will have to meet stringent performance standards, ensuring that the technology will be capable of reducing crashed, injuries, and deaths. The Safety Title will also make standard technology in every new car which will help prevent children from dying of heat asphyxia in the back of cars, minimize the chance of older adults dying in their homes and the silent killer of carbon monoxide, unknowingly spewing form their keyless vehicle, and ensure that limousines must meet the basic safety standards of other passenger vehicles, and reduce the scourge of drunk driving, which kills thousands every year,” said Levine.

Chair Schahowsky says she is confident that the traffic safety legislation will pass the House, and has high hopes for the safety bills in the Republican-led Senate, as well.

“There is the opportunity, I think, to move things independently, but we are trying to keep this package together. All of these things, we believe, are wildly popular among the American people who are now really seeming to have really found their voice,” said Schakowsky.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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