WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — This Sunday marks one year since the tragic stretch limousine crash in New York that killed 20 people celebrating a birthday.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released this week a report on the incident, which included safety recommendations for stretch limos in the U.S.
The NTSB says limo operators should be required to immediately take major steps to ensure passenger safety so those of us who are celebrating weddings or other special events aren’t risking our lives.
“When a crash like this happens, the best day of your life can turn into your biggest nightmare,” Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety President Cathy Chase said.
Chase believes the crash highlights safety loopholes that must be closed.
“It was determined the seats that were changed were not properly anchored to the vehicle,” she explained.
When a vehicle comes out of production, it must meet federal safety standards. But once that vehicle is stretched into a limo—those requirements no longer apply.
“We’re trying to close that gap,” said Robert Molloy, director of the NTSB’s Office of Highway Safety. “The chances for them to survive would have been increased had there been seats that were designed for crashes and belts that would support the occupants during a crash.”
The NTSB can only make recommendations, however, so it’s up to Congress to actually make them law.
New York lawmakers say they’re working on a bill requiring limos to meet production vehicles safety standards.
In a statement, the National Limousine Association—a nonprofit organization that represents limo manufacturers, owners, and drivers—said: “The NLA stands ready to continue in its leadership role by sharing NTSB recommendations and by providing a forum for education on improving driver and passenger safety.”
The NTSB says these changes can and should happen immediately to save lives.