Albany, NY Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale) announced on Monday that three bills which she introduced were signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Two of the bills are related to safety improvements in the operation of for-hire stretch limousines. The third piece of legislation establishes a Limousine Passenger Safety Task Force.
Stretch limousines are the vehicle of choice for many happy occasions, from family events, to birthdays, to weddings, to the annual ritual of prom. But they also present unique challenges that implicate the safety of drivers and passengers alike.
Bill A712 is an act to amend the vehicle and traffic law, in relation to drug and alcohol testing for for-hire vehicle drivers by adding a new section 507-a to require that all motor carriers conduct pre-employment and random drug and alcohol testing on all drivers of any for-hire vehicle with a capacity of transporting nine or more occupants, including the driver. The Bill also prohibits any person from consuming drugs or alcohol within eight hours before going on duty, operating, or being in physical control of a for-hire vehicle with a seating capacity of nine or more passengers including the driver.
Bill A9057 is an ACT to amend the vehicle and traffic law, in relation to the installation of safety belts in stretch limousines, and the posting of notice therein Under the provisions of the bill, stretch limousines altered on or after January 1, 2021 would be required to be equipped with seatbelts for all seating positions, and stretch limousines altered prior to January 1, 2021 would be required to be retrofitted, within a two year period, with seatbelts for all seating positions. Additionally limousines operators will be required to post a notice in the vehicle instructing passengers to wear their seatbelts.
Bill A1316C creates the Stretch Limousine Passenger Safety Task Force, to conduct a comprehensive review of matters influencing the safety, adequacy, efficiency, and reliability of stretch limousine transportation The Task Force will comprise eleven members, consisting of the Commissioners of the New York State Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and Transportation (DOT), the Superintendent of the New York State Police, and eight other members appointed by the Governor.
Assemblywoman Paulin, chair of the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, has been advocating for improvements to limousine safety for several years. Paulin first recognized the need for limo safety improvements following the tragic July 2015 limousine crash in Cutchogue, on Long Island, that killed four people and injured four others. An even greater sense urgency came when 20 people were killed, the driver, all 17 passengers, and two pedestrians in a single limo crash in Schoharie in October of 2018.
Following the Governors signing of the bills, Assemblywoman Paulin said, I am very pleased that these critical safety measures have become law. I thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership on these important initiatives. Access to seat belts for limousine passengers and random drug testing for drivers are common sense and practical steps that will help ensure the safety of not only limousine passengers but for everyone traveling on New York roadways. The creation of a Limousine Passenger Safety Task Force means that we will continue to address issues that confront the safety of Limousine passengers and drivers in the future.