State legislators, families fight for bills to improve limo safety

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State lawmakers are considering several bills aimed at improving safety in the limousine industry.

It comes after a 2018 limo crash killed 20 people upstate and a 2015 incident in Cutchogue killed four others.

Sen. Jim Gaughran, of Northport, believes new state safety legislation for stretch limos will pass in 2020 because of the advocacy of families who have lost loved ones in crashes.

"I am so grateful for them to have the courage to do that and for becoming such an important part of the legislative process," Gaughran says.

One of the bills Gaughran is sponsoring would ban limos from making U-turns and would heavily increase fines for doing so.

The set of bills Gaughran is sponsoring will also include better training, seatbelt requirements and commercial driver's licenses.

Nancy Dimonte's daughter, Joelle, survived the crash in Cutchogue. She says she is working with legislators to strengthen limo safety and won't stop unless something is done.

"There's people out there who believe it's not a cost-effective method," Dimonte says. "But when you look at all the lives that have been lost--it's time."

Penny Casey, president of the Long Island Limousine Association, says their concern is losing drivers because of the required licenses.

She says safety is a top priority, but limousine companies can't force someone to put a seat belt on.

"You can't just say this is what you're going to do because then you're going to put a lot of people out of business," Casey says.

The bills have to pass both the state Senate and Assembly before going to the governor for final approval.

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