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Causes of limousine accident revealed

Our readers may remember that last year a limousine accident near Albany, New York, caused the deaths of 17 passengers, its driver and two pedestrians. Recent investigations on the cause of this fatal accident revealed problems that disclose risks of commercial vehicle accidents across the country.

The limousine, a modified and enlarged 2001 Ford Excursion, sped down a hill in Schoharie last fall as it was going to a brewery for a birthday party. It sped through an intersection, crashed into a car and then struck two bystanders.

All of the limo's passengers were between 24 and 34-years-old and included two sets of newlyweds, four sisters and two brothers. This was the country's deadliest transportation accident since an airplane crash near Buffalo killed 50 people in 2009. It was recently disclosed that investigators interviewed an employee of a Saratoga Springs brake shop who admitted that he falsified a Department of Motor Vehicles Verification for the limousine. The inspection was not performed.

The employee, instead, returned the brake part to its seller. This was a billing practice in which certain services were substituted on billing invoices for ones that were performed to meet sales quotas. Repairs involving the braking system and vehicle's power steering were allegedly not performed as part of this scheme.

Earlier this month, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended the installation of lap and shoulder belts for each passenger position on all new vehicles that were modified for limousine use. The NTSB also said that New York should have more stringent seatbelt laws because all passengers should have the same protection wherever they are seated in the vehicle.

New York Governor Cuomo enacted new regulations and strengthened criminal penalties. Knowingly operating a limousine in a way that causes the death of another person is now a felony.


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