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Nicoletti Walker Law Group Dec. 9, 2015

As highlighted by the New York Times, many people do not realize that most-all stretch limousines have been stripped of basic safety features that regular vehicles are equipped with. This leaves them with very few chances of surviving collisions and the chances of a severe, fatal crash high.

“Unnaturally” Made

But why are these vehicles so unsafe? Arguably, it is due to the unnatural way that stretch limousines are made: an “ordinary” car is cut in half, plates inserted to extend the floor and roof, and there are no pillars running from the ceiling to the floor to provide the typical structure surrounding passengers. Seats are also reconfigured such that passengers are typically seated along the sides of the limousine; thus, if the vehicle is hit on its side, there is very little chance that these passengers survive.

Falling Outside of Federal Standards

And what about federal standards? While the federal standards require that vehicles have airbags to protect drivers and passengers, this does not apply to stretch limousines. In fact, it is questionable as to whether the proper sized airbags are even made for stretch limousines. Currently under the regulations, manufacturers must prove that a vehicle meets federal standards before it is turned into a stretch limousine, but not after; the vehicle gets modified and put out onto the road without any re-inspection.

Thus, strangely enough, “party limos” are exempt from certain occupant-protection rules if they have fewer than eight forward-facing seats. This includes the large party buses as well, which do not need to carry extra seatbelts or airbags for passengers (some of whom are regularly standing while the bus is moving).

What makes no sense about this is, due to the length of stretch limousines, a lot of the accidents that they are involved in are, specifically, side collisions, which is precisely where the seats are located (and precisely why they are exempt from the regulations that apply to vehicles with forward-facing seats in the first place).

A Solution?

Until federal standards are forced to apply to these stretch vehicles, states should step up and set up their own rules requiring that they have seatbelts for all seats, regardless of whether they are forward- or side-facing. Until then, they are essentially “moving bar and rec rooms.” The irony? They are encouraged as a safety measure for those who want to go out and drink and cannot drively home safely. But are they just as dangerous as drunk driving because of the way that they are structured and the lack of safety features?

In addition, the National Transportation Safety Board should step up and become involved in these moving safety hazards.

Mike Walker Law

Those who cut up regular cars and SUVs to turn them into limousines are arguably placing people’s lives in danger and acting negligently. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, an attorney will fight to represent you. Clearwater attorney Mike Walker has years of experience representing victims in all forms of auto accidents. Contact the office online or by phone today so that attorney Mike Walker can get started helping you.