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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo proposes safety reforms for limousines

Members of the National Transportation Safety Board at

Members of the National Transportation Safety Board at the scene in Schoharie on Oct. 7, 2018, a day after the crash. Credit: AP/Hans Pennink

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday proposed more strict safety enforcement of rental limousines following last year’s crash upstate that killed 20 people.

"This crash was a horrific tragedy that shocked this state to its very core," Cuomo said Tuesday. "We are advancing reforms that will give aggressive new powers that will allow authorities to take dangerous vehicles off the roads without delay, hold unscrupulous businesses accountable and increase public safety in every corner of New York.”

The proposed reforms stem from the October modified stretch limousine crash in Schoharie County, 30 miles west of Albany. State Police and the National Transportation Safety Board continue to investigate the cause.

One of the families is suing the operator of the service, Prestige, claiming that the 2001 Ford Excursion was “dangerous and defective” and the company was grossly negligent for putting it on the road.

Cuomo’s proposal would ban “remanufactured” limousines; require drivers to hold commercial driver's licenses with special passenger endorsements; make a felony of removing out-of-service stickers from cars; require stronger registration criteria; allow the state to seize suspended license plates; make a felony of tampering with a federal safety tag; and eliminate the exception to the seat belt law now allowed for limousines.

“It’s an important issue,” said State Sen. Thomas O’Mara (R-Big Flats) in an interview moments after Cuomo released his proposal, which will be in his state budget address later on Tuesday.

O’Mara said he is seeing an increase in limousine rentals in his Finger Lakes district because of more wine tours and sightseeing trips linked to nights out partying. The trend is similar statewide, as limousine rentals become more common for millennials and many areas, including Long Island, see a spike in such rentals for proms, graduations and weddings.

“We’ll take a close look at that,” O’Mara said of Cuomo’s proposal.

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