Seat belts for limos could soon become mandatory, some are not happy

HOST INTRO: After a fatal crash that killed 20 people last October in upstate New York, Governor Cuomo wanted to ban stretch limousines. THEN, after much opposition from the limo industry, he agreed not to. Now, he is proposing all limo and large vehicles–old and new–to install seat belts for its passengers. Reporter Andrea Salcedo talked to limo companies about how this could impact their business. 

SALCEDO 1: Under federal law, new fleets of vehicles including limos, cabs, buses, school buses and liveries are required to have seat belts. But many old fleets of mass transportation cars in New York, don’t have seatbelts at all—especially modified vehicles like stretch limos. Under Governor Cuomo’s new budget that would change But not all limo business owners are happy about it. 

BARWELL 1: Many of these companies will have a fleet of these vehicles that don’t have seatbelts out of their fleets, you know, within the next four or five years regardless and many of us  have already gone that way because of the federal requirement as well. 

SALCEDO 2: That’s Kevin Barwell, president of Limousine, Bus, Taxi Operators of Upstate NY. He says it would cost as much as $30,000 to install seat belts in old vehicles. But Russ Rader, with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in Virginia, says safety has no price. 

RADER 1: When you’re thinking about the people’s lives the cost of adding belts to an existing limousine is really a small investment. 

SALCEDO 3: Plus, Rader says, safety in limos is not usually a passengers main concern. 

RADER 2: There is this attitude that when people are in limousines and they’re out celebrating that somehow they don’t need to follow safety habits that they would if they were riding in the backseat of a passenger vehicle… The laws of physics are not repealed because you’re celebrating an event in the backseat of a limousine. 

SALCEDO 4: Some business managers like Kenny Cruz, manager of New App Limo, have gotten on board with Cuomo’s proposal. I went to his offices on the Upper West Side to get his take. 

AMBI: *CAR SERVICE PLACE, PHONE CALLS AND TYPING* 

CRUZ 1: If we’re in the business of transporting people, we have to make sure we do it correctly. We have to make sure that at least on our end, for whatever we have to be responsible for, we have to be also liable for. Unfortunately, if it will help us improve our safety then by all means, yeah. 

SALCEDO 5: Cruz says that he understands why many business owners would oppose this measure, but that in the car service industry, safety should be the provider’s main concern. 

CRUZ 3: And if safety is not a concern of yours for your passengers, then you shouldn’t be in business at all. 

SALCEDO 6: Andrea Salcedo, Columbia Radio News. 

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