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Hill’s limo safety bill moving to governor
August 28, 2014, 05:00 AM Daily Journal Staff Report

Jerry Hill

A limousine safety bill inspired by a fatal fire on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge that claimed five lives awaits the governor’s signature after passage Wednesday by the state Legislature.

The bill authored by state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, proposes bringing the safety standards for modified limousines with a capacity under 10 people in line with the regulations for larger vehicles such as being equipped with two fire extinguishers and having annual safety inspections by the California Highway Patrol.

Hill tried a similar bill last year and received bipartisan support but Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it because of cost concerns.

Hill’s bill was inspired by the May 5, 2013, fire in a Foster City-bound limousine carrying nine women celebrating a recent wedding. Five, including the 31-year-old bride, died in the burning vehicle when they could not escape. An investigation concluded the failure of the vehicle’s suspension system started the fire. Friction from contact by the rear drive shaft with the floor pan ignited the carpet and foam padding inside the vehicle where nine passengers were seated on their way to a bridal shower in Foster City. The deaths were ruled accidental but sparked a flurry of bills governing regulations and safety measures.

The following month in Walnut Creek, another modified limousine caught fire but all 10 female passengers, many older than 90, escaped unharmed. Neither limousine had a fire extinguisher or was subject to inspection because of the smaller size.

“Without SB 611, thousands of limousines will continue to go uninspected and will not be equipped with fire extinguishers,” Hill said in a prepared statement. “This legislation simply requires the same safety protections for all limousines regardless of their seating capacity, because life in a nine-passenger limo is just as valuable as a life in a 10-passenger limo.”

Hill’s bill, which was unanimously approved the state Senate, also requires the CHP to develop a fee structure to cover the entire cost of the inspection program. In his veto of the 2013 bill, Brown had asked the Legislature to send a similar bill in this session but with the added authority for the CHP to charge for inspections.

 

 

Tags: safety, limousine, state, because, limousines,


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