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Fatal Fire Should Motivate Parents to Screen Limo Companies Before Making a Prom Selection

May 09, 2013

The end of the school year is close, so many parents are assisting their kids in getting ready for prom. Prom is an important rite of passage that many high school kids anticipate for months and remember for a lifetime. However, this happy time is also wrought with potential risks because your child may find that he or she is the passenger in a car with an intoxicated teen driver. A widespread practice among many parents to deal with this danger is to arrange for a limousine to transport their son or daughter and friends to prom. However, a tragic fatal limousine fire this month has prompted questions about the safety standards and regulations that apply to luxury chauffeured vehicles.

The reality is that there are good reasons to select a limo as the means of transportation for your teen's prom because you theoretically preempt the issue of intoxicated and distracted drivers by relatively inexperienced drivers. According to national accident statistics involving teen drivers, alcohol consumption is a factor in approximately sixty percent of teen driving accidents.

Further, car accidents continue to be the leading cause of accidental death among teens in their 15 to 20s. The real eye opening survey found that 90 percent of high school students surveyed indicated that they would be willing to drink and drive on prom night.

While it is important to understand that the fatal limo fire in California that killed five nurses who were celebrating a bachelor party is an extremely rare occurrence, the lack of available exits for passengers behind the glass partition has now become the focus of potential safety concerns. Four women survived the vehicle fire by squeezing through the glass partition because the door handles in the rear of the limousine were disabled. The bodies of those who perished in this tragic incident were found pushed up against the glass partition suggesting they tried to escape the same way as the other surviving passengers.

The deadly incident has focused attention on the limited regulations that apply to the manufacturing and safety of limousines. Limousine rear doors have safety locks to prevent passengers who are drinking and partying from inadvertently falling out of the vehicle, but the inability to escape the rear of the vehicle could place occupants in danger when they are involved in collisions with other vehicles. Public safety experts and government regulators are examining whether changes are needed so that injured passengers or those threatened by fire can exit these vehicles safely.

Limousines are customized by qualified vehicle modifiers (QVMs), but there are currently no limitations or restrictions that govern who may manufacture the vehicles. While your teenager is probably much safer, gereally speaking, being driven by a professional driver in a limo than a fellow teenager, it is worth asking questions about what safety inspections and features are present in a company's limos, as well as company policies regarding the screening, training and drug testing of their drivers. Parents who screen potential limousine companies before making a selection increase the probability that prom night will be memorable for the right reasons.

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Category: Auto Accidents

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Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.