Assemblyman Santabarbara: Law Requiring Stretch Limousines to Install Seatbelts is Now in Effect

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara announced that a 2020 law he co-sponsored and helped pass requiring stretch limousines to be retrofitted with seatbelts within a two-year period took effect on February 3rd. The law was part of limousine safety package that Santabarbara championed to improve passenger safety following the 2018 limousine accident in Schoharie County that claimed 20 lives and was the nation’s deadliest traffic accident in nearly a decade.

“Three years ago, our community was shaken to its core after the deadly limousine crash in Schoharie County took twenty innocent lives,” Santabarbara said. “Since then, I’ve worked tirelessly to pass laws that will help prevent such horrific accidents from ever happening again. These bills will further strengthen safety on our roads and provide needed protections for passengers.”

The law requires stretch limousines altered prior to January 1, 2021, to be retrofitted within a two-year period with approved seatbelts as follows: at least two seatbelts for the front seat, at least one rear seat seatbelt for each passenger for which the rear seat was designed and at least one seatbelt for each passenger seat position (Ch 10 of 2020). The section of the legislation requiring these changes be made in a two-year window went into effect on Feb. 3, 2022.

New York has sadly seen multiple devastating limousine accidents in recent years: the October 2018 crash in Schoharie County and a July 2015 accident that claimed four lives in Long Island. Both of these tragedies renewed calls for increased protections for passengers who utilize limousine services.[1],[2] Santabarbara authored many of the new laws currently in effect, including measures he co-sponsored that require drug and alcohol testing for all for-hire vehicle drivers and establish the Stretch Limousine Passenger Safety Task Force (Ch. 2 of 2020; Ch. 3 of 2020). Santabarbara also championed legislation to:

  • increase penalties for illegal U-turn violations committed by stretch limousine drivers (Ch. 4 of 2020);
  • require the state Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to establish and publicize a toll-free hotline for reporting safety issues regarding stretch limousine vehicles or drivers (Ch. 5 of 2020);
  • require drivers of stretch limousines with seating capacities of nine or more passengers including the driver to hold a commercial driver’s license with a passenger endorsement; (Ch. 6 of 2020)
  • require passengers under 16 to wear safety belts in taxis and livery vehicles Ch. 8 of 2020)
  • allows the commissioner of transportation to impound or immobilize stretch limousines in certain situations; but especially if vehicle repairs haven’t been scheduled or been made to satisfactorily adjust such vehicle's out-of-service defect or defects (Ch. 9 of 2020);
  • ensure that every stretch limousine registered in New York State has a commercial global positioning system while operating in New York (Ch. 9 of 2020); and
  • require the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to maintain and annually update the licensing status of motor carriers operating stretch limousines on its website (Ch. 12 of 2020).