New stretch limo reforms pass after 2018 crash killed 20 people

| Jan 17, 2020 | Ride Share/Taxi/Transit Injuries |

State lawmakers have passed 10 new reform proposals meant to keep travelers safer when they ride in stretch limousines. The new regulations are supported by leaders of the Assembly and Senate and by Governor Cuomo.

The push for reforms came after an October 2018 crash in Schoharie County in which 20 people, including all 17 passengers in a limo, were killed. The limo was a retrofitted 2001 Ford Excursion, did not have easily accessible seat belts, and multiple reports found that seat belts might have saved lives in the deadly crash, if the passengers had been wearing them.

Therefore, one change is to require new stretch limos to have seat belts by next year. Retrofitted vehicles will have until 2023 to install seat belts. Another bill mandates that people riding in limos, liveries and taxis wear seat belts whether they are in the front or back seat. This rule would apply to ride-hailing services like Lyft and Uber, as well.

Another regulation will require stretch limos to have built-in GPS trackers. New criminal penalties and fines will be created for illegal U-turns, and new drug and alcohol testing will be required of limo drivers. Another part of the package would implement research on other possible safety measures in these vehicles.

Limousines must carry high minimum insurance levels

When people travel in limousines, they have a right to assume they will be driven reasonably safely by a driver who is not impaired. In New York City, a large stretch limo like the one involved in the Schoharie County crash is required to carry a substantial amount of insurance.

Here are the limits required by law for luxury limousines:

1-8 passengers: $500,000 per person
$1 million per incident CSL
$200,000 Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
9-15 passengers: $1.5 million per incident
$200,000 PIP
16-20 passengers: $5 million per incident
$200,000 PIP

Nevertheless, this may not be enough to cover all of the injured person or people’s losses. In the event that insurance does not cover the entire loss, an injured person can generally sue the driver and/or the limo company for the excess. Insurance limits differ depending on the area and the type of vehicle.