Earlier this weekend, 20 people lost their lives in a limousine accident that has the NTSB reeling and has folks with an ounce of common sense asking, “Why aren’t limousines safer.”
It’s an unfortunate fact and a path that regulations take but it’s tragedies like this that shape future safety standards for years to come. As per the New York Times in an update on a limousine tragedy in upper state New York (Oct. 8, 2018) earlier this weekend that killed 20 people, this accident doesn’t have one singular reason why everyone tragically perished, including two pedestrians, but was a compounding of reasons that culminated in a perfect storm.
Important secondary reasons for this tragedy included ineptitude from both the driver of the limousine company and the limousine company itself. Although this group of people had a party bus already planned, last-minute plans with that company providing the bus resulted in them switching sources of transportation on the fly, resorting to a smaller and cheaper limo company.
Prestige Limousine based out of Gansevoort, N.Y., has a track record of failed inspections and unqualified drivers, a record which caught up to them this weekend. The stretch Ford Excursion that the party-goers were in wasn’t even roadworthy. And the driver didn’t even have the proper license to operate a stretch limousine.
But, the main reasons, in my opinion, why this limousine accident happened in the first place was lack of action on fixing and updating a historically sketchy and accident-prone intersection.
Here’s that T-intersection where the accident happened. According to reports, the Excursion limo careened through the intersection without slowing before crashing into a parked car and in front of a small county store and barreling into the woods. Previous accidents and witness accounts in that area know this intersection to be a dangerous one. To not take action and retrofit this area for it to be safer, in hindsight, is unconscionable.
Finally, a lack of seatbelts and crash protection for limos, in general, is to blame. The New York Times reports that,
Stretch limos are exempted from federal seat belt regulations for commercial vehicles because they use perimeter, banquette seating pointing inward, not forward facing seats, according to safety experts. In addition, though stretch limos have longer passenger compartments than standard limos, there is no requirement to install extra overhead airbags and side-crash pillars.
To allow and legalize making vehicles dangerous and then sending them out into normal traffic, in conditions, normal cars struggle with, let alone vehicles with screwed up handling characteristics is not logical.
Hopefully, this becomes the straw that breaks the camel’s back in pushing for seatbelts and extra crash protection in limos.
I’m curious to see how lawmakers and limousine makers fight back.
Source: NY Times