Limousine Safety Stretched to the Spotlight | Legislation

There around 11,000 limousine operators currently working on Britain’s roads – a figure which some estimates suggest could grow by 50 per cent in the next year alone.

They are the ultimate “bling” transport choice for rappers and footballers’ wives alike, but the rise and rise of the stretch limo could finally be over. 

It is also the vehicle of choice for US President George Bush when he is in London for a visit
Councils are planning a safety crackdown on the monster-sized cars which have become a must-have for everything from hen nights and 21st birthday parties to American-style teenage prom events.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 400 councils in England and Wales, claims up to 40 per cent of stretched limousines currently on the roads – more than 4,000 vehicles – could be operating illegally.

The LGA warned councils are planning a to carry out a series of checks with police and the Government’s Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA).

Features such as sound systems, televisions and mini bars have helped boost demand.

“The party is over for illegally-operated stretched limos,” Cllr David Sparks, the LGA’s transport spokesman said.

“Our message to parents is don’t swap style for safety when you book a stylish limo for your son or daughter’s prom.

“Councils are here to make sure people get around safely.

“While many limousine operators conduct their business in a safe fashion, we will crack down on the reckless minority who put passengers and pedestrians in serious danger.”

He said the crackdown would include checks to make sure drivers hold the correct licences and had been screened by the Criminal Records Bureau, the body which vets teachers and youth workers.

There will also be inspections for safety equipment such as fire extinguisher, first aid kits and the correct type of seat belts.

The move follow changes in the law which came into force in January requiring all limousines, except those used exclusively for weddings and funerals, to be licensed as Private Hire Vehicles.

Bill Bowling, licensing officer at the National Limousine and Chauffeur Association, said: “As a trade body we make sure that our drivers are Criminal Record Bureau-checked, vehicles are properly licensed and that limos have checks every 10 weeks.

“There has not been a passenger fatality in a limousine in the UK to date, which statistically makes it the safest way to travel bar none.

“However, what we all wish to achieve is more, better and specific legislation for limousines.”

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