Updated: January 14, 2020 05:08 PM
Created: January 14, 2020 10:36 AM
ALBANY, N.Y. (WHEC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo formally introduced limousine safety legislation on Tuesday.
The series of bills comes after 20 people died in a limousine crash on Oct. 6, 2018, in Schoharie. The investigation confirmed the brakes of the poorly-maintained limo failed.
A crash in 2015 killed four young women in Cutchogue after the limo made a U-turn into the path of a drunk driver.
The 10-point package introduces new safety regulations including seatbelt requirements, immobilization of defective limousines, increased penalties for illegal u-turns, GPS requirements, customer service resource requirements, regular validation of vehicle and driver safety information, new commercial driver's license requirements for limousine drivers, creation of a passenger task force, and drug and alcohol testing.
"These comprehensive reforms will give authorities much-needed new powers to get dangerous vehicles off the road, weed out bad actors and put into place common-sense safety standards that will increase public safety in every corner of New York," Cuomo said.
The limousine safety regulation package was a three-way agreement among Gov. Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
Some of the new regulations involve increasing the penalties when limos make illegal U-turns, allowing the Commissioner of Transportation to impound unsafe vehicles and requiring stretch limos to have seatbelts as well as commercial GPS technology.
The families of those involved in the two deadly limo crashes stood with lawmakers in support of the package.
"For the past 16-months family members have worked hand in glove with both the senate and assembly to craft laws that represent a meaningful legacy to those loved ones that were lost to us on October 6th, 2018," Kevin Cushing, father of one of the Schoharie limousine crash victims said.
But the trade organization that represents limo drivers says the legislation puts an undue financial burden on small limo businesses without addressing real issues that would prevent crashes.
"Those are big costs that some of these operators may not be able to endure,” Kevin Barwell said. “Me being the President of the Limousine, Bus and Taxi Operators of Upstate New York, I’ve had a lot of operators call me crying almost to the fact, ‘What am I gonna do? I can't sustain this. I didn't do anything wrong but yet I’m being punished for it.’"
The Governor, Senate and Assembly announced Tuesday that all had agreed on the ten new regulations
They expect them to be adopted into law in the coming weeks
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