Comprehensive 10-Point Package Includes New Seatbelt Requirements, Immobilization of Defective Limousines, Increased Penalties for Illegal U-Turns, and Regular Validation of Vehicle and Driver Safety Information
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed a comprehensive package of legislation putting into place new reforms and safety standards for the limousine industry. The 10-point package includes new safety regulations such as: 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 far-reaching reforms deliver much-needed protections that will help keep dangerous vehicles off our roadways, crack down on businesses that do not prioritize safety and will give New Yorkers piece of mind when they enter a limo in this state," Governor Cuomo said. "New York stands with those who lost loved one in the horrific crashes that inspired this legislation and I commend the family members who worked tirelessly to help pass these bills to help prevent future tragedies."
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, "Limousines and celebrations usually go hand-in-hand, and the Senate Democratic Majority wants to keep it that way. The crashes that have taken place because of unsafe limos and lax regulations are tragedies, and we have a responsibility to address this problem. The Senate Majority stands, and grieves, with the families who lost loved ones to limo crashes and who turned that suffering into activism. These bills, which I thank the Governor for signing into law, will help improve safety, hold companies accountable, and save lives."
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, "Too many times, joyous events here in New York have turned into tragic accidents because of a lack of oversight and safety standards in the limousine industry. That ends now. These reforms will hold the industry accountable, making limos safer for passengers, drivers and everyone on our roads."
Chair of the Committee on Transportation Senator Timothy M. Kennedy said, "By passing this comprehensive package of legislation, the Senate and Assembly are strengthening standards across New York State, and changing the way the industry is regulated to ensure passenger safety is prioritized. The families who lost loved ones in the limo crashes in Schoharie and Cutchogue were instrumental in the pursuit of these reforms, and their commitment to make New York safer will undoubtedly prevent other families from experiencing the same heartbreak they have endured. I thank Governor Andrew Cuomo, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Speaker Carl Heastie for working alongside us to fast-track this historic deal, and I look forward to seeing these important measures enacted."
Chair of the Committee on Transportation Assembly Member William B. Magnarelli said, "Laws making stretch limousines safer for drivers, passengers and everyone on our roads is needed for our state. The Governor's signing of these bills into law creates oversight and reform of the limousine industry. They ensure that companies and drivers meet enhanced licensing and inspection regulations, and mandate the use of safety features such as seatbelts and GPS. I am happy to be a part of this movement to protect our residents and believe these changes will save lives and prevent future tragedies."
Seatbelt Requirements (S.6191C/A.9057)
This legislation provides that motor vehicles converted into stretch limousines on or after January 1, 2021 have at least 2 safety belts for the front seat and at least one safety belt in the rear for each passenger the vehicle was designed to hold, as well as requiring all stretch limousines to be retrofitted to include seatbelts by January 1, 2023.
New Commercial Driver's License Requirements for Limousine Drivers (S.6192A/A.8474A)
This legislation requires individuals operating limousines carrying 9 or more passengers, including the driver, to have a passenger endorsed commercial driver's license.
Immobilization and Impoundment of Defective Limousines (S.6193C/A.9056)
This legislation allows the Commissioner of Transportation to impound or immobilize stretch limousines in certain situations and provides that an impounded motor vehicle will not be released unless the Commissioner provides written notice that the vehicle has passed re-inspection. Any release of a vehicle without approval by the Commissioner will be punishable by a fine of up to $10,000.
Increased Penalties for Illegal U-Turns (S.6188B/A.8172B)
Violations will be subject to a $250 to $400 fine and/or up to 15 days imprisonment. Second violations in eighteen months will be subject to a $600 to $750 fine and/or up to 45 days imprisonment. Violations involving a stretch limousine making an illegal U-turn while carrying at least one passenger would be subject to a $750 to $1,000 fine and/or up to 180 days imprisonment.
GPS Requirements for Limousines (S.6187C/A. 9058)
This legislation requires stretch limousines to use GPS technology designed specifically for commercial vehicles upon the creation of federal standards.
New Customer Service Resources (S. 6185B/A.8214B)
This legislation requires the Commissioners of Transportation and Motor Vehicles to establish, maintain, monitor and publicize a telephone hotline operated and maintained by the Department of Motor Vehicles used to report safety issues with stretch limousines and safe limo website maintained by the Department of Transportation. The DOT and DMV may investigate the reports generated by the hotline and use verified information from those reports in their enforcement actions.
Driver's License Validation (S.6604B/A.9059)
This legislation requires that every motor carrier furnish the Department of Motor Vehicles a list of each altered motor vehicle designed to carry 9 or more passengers and requires that the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles annually review the bus driver files of each driver employed by a motor vehicle carrier who operates a stretch limousine, along with publishing various safety metrics. DMV must annually update its website to provide information on motor carriers operating stretch limousines and data on limousine operations and drivers.
Creation of Passenger Task Force (S.6189C/A.1316C)
This legislation establishes the stretch limousine passenger safety task force to conduct a comprehensive review of matters influencing the safety, adequacy, efficiency and reliability of stretch limousine transportation.
Drug and Alcohol Testing (S.6186B/A.712A)
This legislation will require that large for-hire vehicle drivers and motor carriers be subject to pre-employment and random drug and alcohol testing.
Seatbelt Use in Taxi and Livery Vehicles (S.7134/A.8990)
This legislation expands seatbelt use requirements in for-hire vehicles.
Representative Paul Tonko said, “Our hearts remain broken for the families of the deadly Schoharie and Long Island crashes who have somehow managed to turn personal tragedy from dangerous limousines into a fierce and inspiring resolve. Their wisdom and guidance helped shape the bipartisan national limousine safety package I have been pushing Congress to enact, and their advocacy continues to lift our efforts at the state and national levels to ensure we are doing everything possible to prevent future tragedies of this kind. My thanks to these impressive families and many leaders across New York who have come together to advance this worthwhile legislative state package. I will not stop pushing until our comprehensive package of improvements to close loopholes and raise safety standards becomes law nationwide.”
Senator Brad Hoylman said, "In my Senate district, emergency departments report seeing hundreds of injured rear seat cab passengers a year with split lips, broken noses, cracked teeth, and traumatic brain injuries. The passenger injury phenomenon is so common in ERs that physicians have given it a name: 'partition face'. Now thanks to our legislation today, New York joins more than half of the states that require rear seat passengers in taxis, Ubers and Lyfts to wear seatbelts to protect themselves and other riders. Seat belts save lives. But only if we use them. I'm grateful to the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Transportation Chair Senator Tim Kennedy for helping pass this common-sense legislation."
Senator James Gaughran said, "The survivors of the tragedies of Cutchogue and Schoharie led the charge to pass important limo safety legislation that will protect passengers and drivers alike. These bills, including mandatory seat belts and cracking down on illegal U-turns, are critical safety measures that will prevent tragic crashes like the one just a few years ago in Cutchogue, from happening again. I thank the brave and tireless advocacy of the families of the Cutchogue and Schoharie crashes for being the driving force behind these bills and fighting for safety. Thank you Governor Cuomo for signing these bills into law."
Senator Anna Kaplan said, "The unimaginable tragedies that took place in Cutchogue and Schoharie were a rude awakening for all New Yorkers about the safety of stretch limousines. As lawmakers, we have a duty to families across the state to take action to prevent such senseless tragedy from ever happening again, and I'm very proud to sponsor legislation as part of that effort to keep our residents safe."
Senator Rachel May said, "A graduation or wedding should be one of the best times of your life. You shouldn't worry about whether the limo service you hire will get you home safely at the end of the day. My bill will make it easier for safety issues to be reported to the Commissioner of Transportation. We have seen too many preventable tragedies because limousines weren't well-maintained or regularly inspected. New Yorkers deserve better oversight."
Senator Jen Metzger said, "The devastating loss of lives from the 2018 crash in Schoharie was a call to action for stronger laws to keep people safe on our roads. My bill to mandate drug and alcohol testing for limo drivers and other for-hire vehicles, along with the other urgent legislation that we passed in early January, will save lives and prevent future tragedies. I want to thank Senate Transportation Chair Tim Kennedy for championing this vital package of legislation."
Senator James Sanders, Jr. said, "This bill is important in insuring the safety of both pedestrians and motorists. It is vital that the DMV have up-to-date records regarding stretch limousine companies and their drivers, especially when it comes to defects and crashes. As we all know a car can be a dangerous weapon if not operated properly, and when we think about vehicles that are even larger like stretch limousines that often transport many people, we have to be even more cautious."
Assembly Member Amy Paulin said, "I am very pleased that these critical safety measures have become law. I thank Governor Cuomo for working with the Legislature to complete this comprehensive set of initiatives. Access to seat belts for limousine passengers and random drug testing for drivers are common sense and practical steps that will help ensure the safety of not only limousine passengers but for everyone traveling on New York roadways. The creation of a Limousine Passenger Safety Task Force means that we will continue to address issues that confront the safety of Limousine passengers and drivers in the future."
Assembly Member Angelo Santabarbara said, "Following the deadly limousine crash in Schoharie that claimed the lives of 20 people, the need for updated laws governing stretch limousines was apparent. That's why work on this important legislative package has continued here at the State Capitol on behalf of the families that have lost loved ones and for the safety of our communities. While we see these important bills signed into law to strengthen regulations and improve standards here in New York, I also urge US Congress and Senate leaders to come together and pass similar measures in Washington DC to ensure the safety of passengers in every state."