By Danielle Silvia
The aftermath of a limousine crash that killed 20 people on Oct. 7 in upstate New York is raising more questions than answers. Inside the vehicle was the driver, Scott Lisinicchia, and 17 passengers, who were celebrating a friend’s birthday at a local brewery. Both Lisinicchia and all 17 passengers, as well as two pedestrians, were killed in the crash.
The limousine merged onto a busy intersection and suddenly lost control, hitting an empty car, according to The New York Times. This crash, the cause of which is still unknown, has put limousine safety in the spotlight, and politicians across the nation are trying to configure solutions to prevent future accidents.
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York is currently working with the National Transportation Safety Board to keep track of all future limousine crashes in order to discern a cause. Schumer also stressed a need for stricter safety regulations for limousines, according to The New York Times.
“Stretch limos exist in a gray area. They’re not a car. They’re not a bus. And that’s the problem,” Schumer said at a news conference in Manhattan on Sunday, according to The New York Times. “They fall through the regulatory cracks and there are no safety standards for them. That has to change.”
States have different laws when it comes to limousine rental and driver regulations. According to the CT Post, in Connecticut, limousines that carry less than eight people are only required to be inspected once every six months by the Department of Transportation.
Companies like Lyft and Uber have no regulations at all, which is a hazard many lawmakers are also concerned about. Senator Toni Boucher, a Republican from Connecticut who sits on the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee, expressed this concern.
“That crash has left questions about the vehicle and the driver,” she said, according to the CT Post. “We need to determine if our laws are well-written as to the qualifications of drivers and the inspection of these vehicles.”
The limo had failed “safety inspection in part due to an anti-lock braking system (ABS) malfunction indicators for the hydraulic brake system,” according to ABC News.
Such an error could either indicate a malfunction with the entire braking system of the limo or the indicator light connected to the braking system.
ABC News also stated that Lisinicchia did notice issues with the limousine and was warned not to operate the vehicle. He had also complained of such complications to his wife prior to the accident.
“They said that one time he was driving one of the vehicles and a muffler fell off with clients in the car and he had to stop the car, get out of the car, remove the muffler and move it to the side of the roadway,” Richard Burke, a spokesperson for the Lisinicchia family, told ABC News.
Lisinicchia previously worked as a truck driver and had extensive driving experience. Those who knew him and had driven with him noted that he was both an experienced and a safe driver, according to ABC News.
Many lawmakers are taking all of this into consideration and advocating change in the automobile industry rather than blaming the individual driver. Since this was the deadliest transportation accident in the U.S. since August of 2009, many politicians feel serious actions must be taken to prevent future tragedies.