NTSB pushes limo safety database in a report on deadly 2018 limo crash

A company’s decision to dispatch a stretch limousine with an out-of-service order and poorly maintained brakes led to the Oct. 6, 2018, crash in Schoharie, New York, that killed 20 people, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said in a release.

The report found that Prestige Limousine Chauffer Service’s egregious disregard for safety led to the failure of the brake system on the modified SUV limousine as it descended a steep grade. Although investigators determined the driver likely applied the brakes, the limousine’s speed increased to more than 100 mph before crossing an intersection and crashing into a ravine. All 18 limousine occupants and two pedestrians were killed.

Contributing to the deadly limo crash was the New York State Department of Transportation’s ineffective oversight of Prestige Limousine, even though it knew of Prestige’s multiple out-of-service violations and lack of operating authority, according to the release.

The board described the state’s repair verification process as inadequate. In the report, the NTSB concluded that the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles failed to properly register the limousine, enabling Prestige to circumvent the state’s safety regulations and more rigorous inspection requirements.

Limo crash report 

“Knowing this tragedy could have been prevented on numerous occasions, by those who are entrusted to protect us, makes this crash even more heartbreaking,” said NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt, who was the NTSB Go Team board member on the scene of the crash. “If our safety recommendations are implemented, they will go a long way toward preventing another Schoharie.”

The NTSB issued recommendations to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the state of New York, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, and the National Limousine Association. They include creating a safety database to warn consumers about bad operators.

A year ago, the NTSB issued a safety recommendation report, based in part on the Schoharie investigation, that called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require lap/shoulder belts for each passenger seating position on all new vehicles modified to be used as limousines.

A synopsis of the investigation’s findings and recommendations is available online at go.usa.gov/xGfqt.

The safety recommendation report, “Providing Occupant Protection for Limousine Passengers,” is available online at go.usa.gov/xGfcx

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