Historic limo safety bills passed in State Assembly, Senate

10 Bill Legislative Package on its way to Governor’s desk

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara announced the passage of a comprehensive bill package in the State Assembly and Senate updating the laws governing stretch limousines in the New York State. Following the deadly 2018 limousine crash in Schoharie that claimed the lives of 20 people, Santabarbara has been an advocate for new laws governing stretch limousines.

Among the 10 bills Santabarbara authored 5 and is a co-sponsor of the additional bills in the package.

“The tragic limousine crash in Schoharie that claimed the lives of 20 people was deemed the worst transportation disaster in nearly a decade,” said Assemblymember Angelo Santabarbara. “This horrific event left a scar on our community and the need for updated laws governing stretch limousines is apparent.” Santabarbara added, “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.”

The legislative package provides more oversight on stretch limousine operators and drivers, increases enforcement actions and improves consumer protection. Among the bills (A.8302-A) will allow the Department of Transportation to impound stretch limousines that fail safety inspections. To protect passengers and pedestrians, Santabarbara also sponsored bills that require pre-employment and random drug and alcohol testing of drivers (A.712-A) and (A.8474-A) will require drivers to hold a commercial driver’s license with a passenger (“P”) endorsement.

Additional measures require stretch limousines to have seatbelts for all passengers (A.2157-B), the use of commercial Global Positioning Systems (GPS) technology (A.8171-B) and (A.8172-B) further prohibits U-turns and increases penalties. A separate bill covers the mandatory use of seatbelts.

Santabarbara’s legislation will require the DMV to maintain and annually update a public database that provides information on the status of all carriers operating stretch limousines in New York State, including a list of violations, safety records and other important information (A.5774-B). The bill would also require the commissioner of motor vehicles to annually review the files of each driver employed by a motor vehicle carrier that operates such vehicles.

Additional bills will establish a dedicated DOT hotline to report safety and customer service issues with stretch limousines (A.8214-A). People rent limousines for special occasions – birthdays, weddings, proms – and they should have a simple, easy way to check and report any concerns that could endanger their safety or the safety of their loved ones, Santabarbara noted.

The package also establishes a New York State stretch limousine passenger safety task force (A.1316-B), to conduct a comprehensive review of matters influencing the safety, adequacy, efficiency, and reliability of stretch limousine transportation of passengers for compensation.

“Our hearts remain broken alongside the families from Schoharie and Long Island who have turned their personal tragedies at the hands of dangerous limousines into resolve. Their strength of spirit has helped shape my own bipartisan efforts to build and advance comprehensive limousine safety legislation through Congress, and their advocacy continues to help ensure we do everything possible to prevent future tragedies of this kind. My thanks to these families and the New York State Assembly and Senate for coming together to advance a worthwhile legislative package at the state level. I will not stop pushing until a comprehensive package of improvements to close loopholes and raise safety standards nationwide is signed into law.”

“I completely agree with Assemblyman Santabarbara regarding the urgent need for the New York State Assembly, Senate and Governor to expedite enactment and enforcement of these critical pieces of legislation,” said City of Amsterdam Mayor Michael Cinquanti. “That day in October of 2018 was one of the saddest in our community’s history. You won’t find a single person in Amsterdam who isn’t fervently in favor of putting these new and more stringent limousine safety standards and regulations in place. Doing so will save lives and be the only possible good to result from the death of 20 of our beloved sons and daughters. We owe it to their families to get this done without further delay.”

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