After a tragic limo crash killed 20 in upstate New York, Senator Chuck Schumer is renewing his call for stronger government regulations and oversight. Similar to other limousine offerings across the country, the Ford Expedition involved in the accident was modified into a limousine by cutting the SUV into two parts and then extended. Safety advocates have long warned that this process requires removing necessary safety features from the vehicle, including airbags and side rollover pillars, and imperils limo passengers. Now the cause of the deadliest traffic accident in a decade, according to The New York Times, transportation safety advocates and politicians are hoping their pleas for oversight will no longer remain unanswered.
According to New York politicians, the stretched Ford Expedition should not have been used on the night of the crash. The limo had repeatedly failed state inspections, including one just last month. The numerous violations included a faulty braking system, which had taken the twenty-passenger Ford Expedition off the road twice. Further, the driver of the limousine, Scott Lisinicchia, did not possess a valid license to operate the limo. Lisinicchia also died in the crash, which killed all seventeen passengers and two individuals parked on the side of the road. Authorities have charged the owner of the limo business with negligent homicide. The business owner pled not guilty and said the DOT deemed the limo roadworthy only a week before the crash and described the Lisinicchia as a “reliable employee” to CNN.
In response to the accident, Senator Schumer has called on the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to impose stricter regulations and greater oversight on the limo industry, which he described as “[existing] in a gray area” as neither a car nor a bus, allowing it to “fall through the regulatory cracks.”
The Democrat from New York then took the NTSB to task for failing to adequately supervise the limousine industry, which promised to investigate all limo crashes after four people died in a 2012 accident. Sen. Schumer noted that the federal agency had not investigated any of the twelve accidents that have occurred since that crash, “The sad fact here is that right now everyone is talking about limo safety when we could have been studying for the past few years.” Hopefully, the death of these twenty New Yorkers will finally prompt the NTSB to fix this problem.