Now Is The Time For Government To Make Limousines More Safe

We wish more people had the common sense of Jeff Daversa, a Jamestown business owner who saw the safety risks associated with operating a limousine company and chose instead to focus on medical transportation.

Daversa told The Post-Journal earlier this week that, “Part of the reason we got out of the limo business is the safety of them. They’re not built for crashes, they don’t have proper air bags and ours had seat belts in the back, but they’re not mandatory to wear.”

What’s scary is that Daversa’s limousines only held eight people, unlike the modified SUV involved in a crash Saturday that killed 20 people in Schoharie. Anyone following the heartbreaking news of Saturday’s accident know by now that not all business owners exercise common sense when appropriate as Daversa did. In the days following the crash we have learned, through a spokesperson for the state Transportation Department, that the owner of the limousine involved in Saturday’s crash was warned not to operate the vehicle after it failed an inspection.

We’d like to believe that business owners will always do what is necessary to protect their customers, though we know that isn’t always the case. New York lawmakers, to their credit, did take measures in 2015 to try to make limousines safer for passengers by changing inspection laws and requiring drivers and front-seat passengers to wear seat belts.

Now, it’s time for the state to step in with regulations that keep people safe by limiting the changes to a limousine that affect structural integrity; make sure the vehicles have proper air bags and seat belts; and provide a heavy financial penalty for companies that try to use a limousine that can’t pass inspection.

Riding in a limousine should make a special day even more memorable. It’s unconscionable that poor decisions by a business owner would put people’s lives at risk — and that New York state would create an environment where such negligence could happen. A better written law in 2015 could have forestalled Saturday’s accident.

The governor and each and every member of the state Legislature should remember their role in Saturday’s tragic crash when the next legislative session begins.