In September of 2020, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a report regarding a tragic 2018 limousine accident that resulted in the deaths of 20 passengers. The report noted that state regulators repeatedly failed to appropriately oversee a vehicle that was poorly maintained. The vehicle had corroded brakes and careened at 100 mph into an embankment.
Cause of the Crash
The NTSB found that the crash was caused by brake failure that resulted in a long downhill stretch with increased speed. The NTSB noted the operator’s failure to properly maintain the vehicle and also blamed state regulators for the lack of oversight. Brakes that were properly functioning and well-maintained would have been able to stop the vehicle at the bottom of the hill.
In addition, the operator of the limousine, Prestige Limousine, failed to disclose the vehicle’s occupancy to the Department of Motor Vehicles. This was in an effort to avoid more stringent inspection rules to ensure that a modified vehicle has the required braking capacity for a heavier load.
Under the limousine loophole, vehicles that have been modified after manufacturing to transport 15 or more passengers are not considered commercial vehicles under federal law. This means that these vehicles don’t have to follow the more stringent safety requirements that commercial vehicles undergo. If the limousine in the 2018 crash had been classified as a commercial vehicle, it would have required strict brake inspections that could have saved lives.
Legislation has now been introduced that would close the limousine loophole and provide further limousine safety standards. The legislation would require vehicles that hold 15 or more passengers to be classified as commercial vehicles. It would also require a limousine to adhere to stricter seat belt regulations and be equipped with a black box recorder. The legislation would also create a federal grant program to help states take dangerous limousines off the road.
Contact an Experienced Accident Attorney
If you’ve been injured in a limousine accident, you should consult with an experienced accident attorney. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., our attorneys have been helping accident victims for over 50 years. Contact us online or call us at 1-888-MEDLAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Home and hospital visits are available. Se habla español.