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Deal finalized at Capitol on new limousine safety rules

ALBANY – A package of bills designed to improve limousine safety was agreed to Tuesday by state lawmakers and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

With families from two especially horrific limousine crashes on hand for the deal and passage by both legislative houses Tuesday, lawmakers said the 10 bills will make New York among the nation's strictest for the limousine industry.

Recalling the 20 victims of the 2018 Schoharie County limo crash, as well as four people who died in a 2015 Long Island limo crash, Sen. Timothy Kennedy said New York has had “lax” laws on the books to regulate limousine operators.

“Today, we’re going to change those laws," said Kennedy, a Buffalo Democrat and chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee who negotiated the package of bills.

The measures include:

• Requiring vehicles converted to stretch limousines after next January to have enough seat belts for every passenger and require all stretch limousines to be retrofitted with seat belts by 2023. Additionally, cabs and ride-sharing companies must ensure that passengers between 8 and 16 years old are restrained by a safety belt.

• Implementing an easier regulatory route for the state to seize and immobilize limousines that do not meet certain safety standards as well as a new commercial driver’s license requirement for operators of limousines that carry nine or more passengers.

• Pre-employment and random drug and alcohol testing for drivers of for-hire vehicles that carry nine or more people, as well as creation of a website and telephone hotline for consumers to report safety concerns about limousines.

The package also includes creation of a task force to study other limousine and for-hire safety issues, which Kennedy said will include evaluating the need for limos to be equipped with rear-view cameras, airbags and speed-restriction systems and whether the state should place a limit on how many years a stretch limo can be on the road.

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