Limo safety questioned after accidents

West Virginia residents might wonder about the safety of riding limousines, which are often the ride of choice for groups who want to be responsible and avoid drinking and driving. At least 45 people have been killed in fatal limo accidents since 2000, including a fatal accident in Long Island on July 18 involving a limo and a suspected drunk driver in a pick-up truck.

The accident left four female passengers dead and four other female passengers injured. The fatal accident occurred when the limo driver was making a U-turn and was broadsided by the suspected drunk driver in his pickup. The women had hired the limo to make a tour of local wineries. Police were unsure of which, if any, of the passengers in the limo were wearing seat belts at the time of the accident. More than 50 percent of backseat passengers who were killed in car collisions in 2013 were not wearing their seat belts.

There are various concerns about the safety of limos for backseat passengers, highlighted by at least 45 deaths since 2000 in fatal limo accidents. The use of seat belts is one of them. Even when seat belts are used, the accident might still become fatal, as was the case with a 2005 accident where a drunk driver struck a limo carrying a family and a 7-year-old girl was killed, even while wearing a seat belt.

Only 28 states require adults to use safety belts, and West Virginia only requires the use of backseat safety belts for people under 18. While the use of a seat belt may help at times in reducing the severity of an injury, some crashes are so severe that these types of restraints would not have made a difference. The surviving family members of a person who has been killed in an accident caused by an impaired or otherwise negligent driver may want to speak to an attorney to determine if any recourse is available to seek damages from the responsible party.

Source: West Virginia Department of Transportation, "Occupant Protection", accessed on July 30, 2015

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