The Unseen Dangers of Stretch Limousines
In the transportation sector, car accidents cause more deaths per year than plane crashes, but more people are afraid of flying than driving. Most people do not think twice about using a car service for special nights like prom or weddings, but limousines and party buses can be even more dangerous than a typical car. Common types of accidents involving limousines include rear-end accidents, sideswipes, and parking lot accidents. Unsurprisingly, the size of the limousine usually contributes to these accidents, but there are other dangers for riding in a limousine as well.
Lax Regulations for Limousines
Regulations in the U.S. require vehicles to have seatbelts as well as side-curtain airbags as safety features, but party buses and limos are exempt from this rule if they have fewer than eight forward-facing seats. The exemption is aimed at airport shuttles and buses that carry multiple wheelchair spaces, but limo manufacturers use the exemption to avoid the expense of extra seatbelts or airbags. When the size of stretch limos means they are more susceptible to side collisions, this is especially worrying. A limo with no safety features and unrestrained passengers is an especially dangerous combination, even in minor accidents.
Poor Construction and Mechanical Errors
Often times during the manufacturing process, stretch limos are taken apart, stretched, and bolted back together. This means that the safety of these limos is suspect during an accident. These modifications can also create blind spots for the driver, which is dangerous for the passengers as well as other vehicles on the road.
In 2013, a limo transporting a bachelorette party caught fire because of friction between the car’s drive shaft and rear floorboard. Tragically, five people died in the accident, including the bride-to-be. Then, only a month later, a party bus shifted throwing a passenger against a door which fell open throwing him onto a freeway. The doors were supposed to be locked when the bus was in motion, but the mechanical failure cost the passenger his life.
Unregistered Limousine Companies and Unlicensed Drivers
Skilled limousine drivers can be the difference between a safe arrival and disaster. Another major risk of using a limo service is companies that are either unregistered or that employ unlicensed drivers. A stretch limo is much larger and more difficult to maneuver so an unlicensed driver may not be skilled enough keep passengers safe. Additionally, when an uninsured limo is in an accident, it may be hard for the passengers to receive compensation for any medical treatment they may require. Unsurprisingly, companies that are lenient about employing unlicensed drivers or not insuring their vehicles also tend to be more lax with implementing safety measures including regular maintenance of the limo.
Limousine Safety Tips
- Check to make sure that the company is registered, the driver is licensed, and the car is insured before you sign a contact.
- Check the company’s status at the Better Business Bureau to see if the limo service has any complaints lodged against it.
- Ask the car service questions about the chauffeur including his or her track record and driving experience.
- Inspect the limousine prior to signing up. Look for inspection stickers and write down the VIN to ensure the company does not switch vehicles on you.
- Look into the company’s cancellation policy and know your rights to terminate the contract if a red flag appears.
- To ensure a smooth ride, get every detail of the deal in writing.
With awareness and practicality, a limo ride can be just as glamorous as it is portrayed.