In 2018, the deadly Schoharie crash that claimed the lives of 18 passengers became the incident that sparked the need for new limo safety laws to protect the citizens of the United States.
A few years have passed since the event, and finally, we have seen the California Assembly enact the limo safety law in the state to regulate the stretch limousines industry.
Accidents in Stretch Limousines Can Be Deadly, But You Can Rely on Ehline Law if You Have a Case
- The Vehicle Code and Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards
The Vehicle Code and Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards
Vehicle code is a section of the California code containing laws that regulate the operation, ownership, and registration of vehicles in the state. Here, our limousine accident attorneys will talk about passenger stage corporation and the codes on it.
A passenger stage carrier is also defined as a vehicle that transports individuals from one point to the other on a fair basis. The vehicle has separate codes dedicated to such vehicles; recently, several changes have been made to the vehicle code, so let’s look at the ones relevant to the passenger stage corporation.
Safety Features: Driver and Passenger Compartments
Here are the sections of the vehicle code that were added following the Schoharie crash.
- 27375: In case of any emergency, a modified or converted limo must have two rear side doors on the side of the vehicle and two rear push-out windows for rear-seat passengers to help exit the vehicle. One push-out window should be available on each side of the window. Still, if the vehicle design does not allow for at least two rear-side push-out windows, then the second push-out window shall be on the roof for emergency escape during a fire or other emergency.
The driver should also be responsible for guiding limousine passengers on the safety features of the vehicle prior to the start of the trip. The driver should also inform passengers if there are no vehicle escape options due to the exempt status posing a greater risk to the passengers.
The Department of California Highway Patrol ensures that the regulations comply with Federal Safety Standards. Any limousine manufactured before 1970 and modified before the 15th of August 2013 having an active charter-party carrier number is exempt from these provisions.
- 34500: The relevant department will be responsible for the safe operations of motor trucks, truck tractors, buses, school buses, trailers, vehicles transporting hazardous materials, commercial motor vehicles, and more.
- 34505.1: The relevant department has the right and power to suspend licenses if the operator fails to maintain the vehicles, does not follow the vehicle code, and fails to enroll their drivers in the pull notice system.
Besides the amendments, the assembly has added a few sections to the vehicle code: sections 378, 28062, and 34500.4. The group also repealed the following areas of the vehicle code: 5011.5, 5011.6, and 5011.9.
Adds To These Party Bus And Limo Laws?
Party buses come under the jurisdiction of the Utilities and Transporation Commission (which is ), responsible for implementing and evaluating safety laws regarding charter bus companies.
According to our Los Angeles bus accident attorney, UTC guidelines mandate the following criteria to help distinguish between a regular bus and a party bus:
- Party buses can fit more than 14 passengers behind the driver’s seat
- The operator bus company must advertise that the bus is a party bus
- The operator has made modifications to the bus by adding amenities.
The UTC safety requirements require all buses (regular or party) to have insurance up to $1.5 million for 15 or fewer passengers and $5 million for buses with a seating capacity of over 15.
The department (UTC) further adds to the party bus and limo laws by enforcing applicable federal motor vehicle safety rules that include:
- Drug and alcohol testing programs
- Maintaining records
- Safety fitness procedures
- Training requirements
- Commercial driver’s license standards
- And more.
With so many factors involved in the limousine industry, you may wonder who is responsible if the limousine gets into an accident injuring the passengers. The answer to who is liable depends on where the fault lies. It could be the operator, the driver, the safety inspectors, other negligent drivers, or government bodies.
Suppose you’re in a limousine accident and get hurt, contact us at (213) 596-9642. Our injury attorneys will help investigate your case and hold the responsible people accountable for the damages done to you. We will help determine your claims and file a personal injury claim against the negligent party to get you the compensation you deserve and move on with your life. Contact us for more information on how we can help.