NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — As we enter prom season, families of people killed in a limousine crash on Long Island are demanding to know what’s being done to prevent the same kind of accident from happening again.
Victims’ families joined U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer on Monday at New Hyde Park High School to call on the National Transportation Safety Board to enforce specific regulations on the limo industry, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported.
The NTSB has put out its priorities for the next year, and taking steps to make limos safer is not one of them. Schumer didn’t waste time taking the agency to task.
“Shame on the NTSB. Creating standards so the limos or safe or much safer is not on that list,” Schumer said. “Today, I am calling on the NTSB to put it on their list, come out with regulations quickly now that they have been surveying these limo crashes they know and then Congress can pass it.”
Standards include requiring all limos have seat belts and overhead air bags, and each would be subject to annual federal Department of Transportation inspection.
Douglas Schwartz runs Executive Limousine in West Babylon and is vice president of the National Limo Association.
“Seat belts, I don’t have any issues with that. I think it’s great. Air bags, I don’t know if you can retrofit existing vehicles with side airbags. Moving forward, possibly [with] new manufacturers,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz said most limos do have seat belts, but in New York it is the passenger’s choice whether to wear one.
There have been two major limo crashes in New York. In 2015, four young women were killed in Cutchogue on Long Island when a truck T-boned the limo they were in. Then last year, in upstate Schoharie, New York, 20 people died after a limo crash.
“Now the NTSB does investigate limo crashes. They never did. They never did. But now we have seen so many of these and had the NTSB done its job maybe they wouldn’t have prevented this horrible crash, but the horrible crash up in Schoharie County, where 20 people died, might have been prevented,” Schumer said.
CBS2 asked Schumer what he has done to push regulations since both crashes. He claimed he has gotten the NTSB to start investigating limo crashes.
Paul Schulman’s daughter, Brittney, died in the 2015 limo crash on Long Island.
“Anything that we do is productive. To get people, the right people, to listen I think is the right thing to do, so that other people don’t walk in our shoes,” Schulman said.
Rozner spoke on the phone with the president of the Limo Owners Association and he said owners are ready and willing to work with lawmakers. In fact, they visited Schumer’s office last summer, but were denied a request for a meeting.