Earlier this month, a tragedy took place in Schoharie, N.Y. that rocked the entire state of New York and, to a larger degree, the entire country to its core. A stretch limousine carrying a large group of people crashed, killing 20 people in the process (17 passengers, the driver, and two pedestrians.)
The manager of Apple Barrel Country Store, where the crash took place, stated that the limo appeared to be coming down the hill well over 60 miles per hour. After the limo barreled down the hill, it passed through the T-intersection without stopping and crashed into another vehicle before landing in a shallow ravine.
The limo driver didn’t have the required commercial driver’s license with a passenger endorsement in order to operate the limo and the limo company had a trail of failed inspections. In fact, the 2001 Ford Excursion limo failed inspection just last month.
The exact cause of the crash and the mechanical issues is still under investigation. There are many people who are now calling for the federal government to regulate stretch limousines like the 2001 Ford Excursion involved in the tragic accident a lot more carefully.
New York senators have been very vocal about how stretch limousines are under-regulated throughout the country. Senate minority leader Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York, was one of the first politicians to come down hard on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and demand more regulations for the limo industry. He referred to the Schoharie crash as “overwhelming” and said that it “must not be repeated” in a statement released 10 days after the accident.
New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined Sen. Schumer and added her own comments in the statement that was released. She called on the NHTSA to begin hashing out “new safety rules for stretch limousines,” while vowing to do everything in her power to make sure an accident like the one that took place in Schoharie never happens again. And it wasn’t just New York senators speaking up, either. Sen. Schumer and Sen. Gillibrand were joined by Connecticut senator Richard Blumenthal, who was quick to point out that Connecticut has a law in place limiting stretch limo passengers to nine people. He asked the NHTSA to begin by looking at that law when coming up with new limo regulations.
It remains to be seen how the NHTSA will respond to the Schoharie crash. They’re still working their way through an investigation into it and are hoping to uncover the truth behind what caused it. But it won’t come as a surprise if the NHTSA does ultimately decide to regulate the limo industry a lot tighter moving forward. It could prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again.
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