Updated: February 04, 2020 10:29 AM
Created: February 03, 2020 11:23 PM
Governor Andrew Cuomo officially signed new limo safety regulations into law on Monday. The families of the 20 victims killed in the Schoharie limo crash have been pushing for changes since it happened in October 2018.
Kevin Cushing is Patrick Cushing's father. Patrick was one of the 17 passengers in the limo that crashed in front of the Apple Barrel Country Store. Two bystanders were also killed in the incident.
The investigation into the crash named catastrophic brake failure as the cause. Cushing said Patrick and the 19 others lost that day would likely still be alive if these laws went into effect earlier.
Cushing said that's because now the state allows the immobilization and impoundment of defective limousines.
"There's a question about whether the vehicle that the kids were in, the young adults were in whether that was truly a safe vehicle or not,” Cushing said. “And if it wasn't safe with the new laws it wouldn't be on the road."
The new laws also require seat belts to be worn in limos, limo drivers must have commercial licenses and will now be subject to random drug and alcohol testing. The laws also establish GPS requirements for limos and a hotline for limo safety concerns which will be operated by the New York State Department of Transportation.
Cushing said he knows the Schoharie families played a big role in getting these laws passed, but he also pointed to another tragic limo crash on Long Island in 2015 which killed four people.
The limo driver in that crash was accused of making a reckless U-turn. The new laws also increase the fines and potential prison time for drivers who make illegal U-turns.
"Things didn't really happen as quickly as they should have maybe if they had we wouldn't have had the accident in Schoharie,” Cushing said. “So I guess we feel good about the fact that we may protect another family from having their door knocked on at 11 o'clock at night or 2 o'clock in the morning or whatever the case might be, telling us about a tragic accident that took a family member. And if we have something to do with that never happening that makes us feel pretty darn good."
Though getting 10 laws passed is no small feat, their work isn't done yet.
"Every person that was in that vehicle they have friends and family that live outside of New York and it's important for them to make sure that this advocacy goes beyond New York state,” Cushing said.
Bi-partisan legislation has already been introduced at the federal level. Many of the safety concerns the New York State Legislature addressed are included in those plans.
Cushing said federal lawmakers and their aides have been helpful in this process.
"I'm planning on reaching out to those folks probably within the next week or two and find out what's the next road to take or where is the next turn that we should take?" Cushing said.
Congressman Paul Tonko and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer all released a joint statement saying they will not stop fighting until these safety regulations become federal law.
Stay tuned to NewsChannel 13 for updates on this story.
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