ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — For the past three years, the families who lost loved ones in the Schoharie limo crash have worked hard to make limos safer for everyone. Monday, their mission to change the laws became a reality. It was a big deal for the families, who want to prevent another tragedy from happening.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” said David Brown, President of Premiere Transportation. “The federal government is trying to bring up the standards.”
One of those standards — funding for impoundment to get unsafe limos off the road, something Janet Steenburg said would have saved her two sons, Richard and Axel, and her daughter-in-law Amy, in the Schoharie crash.
“That thing was a rolling death trap, and if the impoundment laws had been into effect then, it would have been pulled,” said Steenburg.
Seatbelts, safety research, annual inspections, and the sharing of inspection history with customers are also among the changes signed into federal law.
“Seatbelts for everyone. Yes, that’s common sense. Every vehicle should have a seatbelt,” explained Brown.
Brown said when it comes to inspections, his limo vans are inspected twice a year from the New York State Department of Transportation, and when it comes to sharing inspection history, Brown said this is what New York State already does.
“You can go on to the DOT website, pull up Premiere Transportation, and you can see the amount of inspections I had, my pass rate, my failure rate, you can see that right now. Again, there are a lot of states that aren’t as regulated and don’t have that.”
However, when it comes to funding research on evacuating passengers more easily in emergency situations, as well as research on limo side impact protection, Brown said he thinks money would be better spent elsewhere, like inspection subsidies.
“To be honest with you, limousines right now, the manufacturing is being scaled down so much that by the time they implement this research and development, I don’t know how many stretch limousines are going to be out there to have this knowledge put there,” said Brown.
But overall, the families say one thing is clear.
“We never know how many people we saved,” said Steenburg. “But we know we saved somebody with this law.”
The limo legislation went into effect immediately following the president’s signature Monday.