WASHINGTON - A limousine crash in New York that left 20 people dead is raising new safety and regulation concerns for the car and limousine rental industry.
The vehicle that crashed was a 17-year-old converted Ford Excursion. One of the passengers killed reportedly texted a family member about 20 minutes before the deadly crash that the limo was in terrible condition.
Michael Greene owns A Platinum Plus Limousines and is the vice president of the Maryland Limousine Association. He said people should do their homework before stepping into a rental vehicle.
"Any company you do business with, they should be able to present their insurance to you and show that they are legally licensed and insured so that you feel safe when you get into the vehicle," Greene advised. "But the best thing you can do is go see what you are going to get. There is a reason why companies don't invite people out to see their vehicles. If they don't invite you out to see your vehicle, your antenna should be up."
He says make sure you get a guarantee in writing for the vehicle you want.
"A lot of companies will bait you with one vehicle and then switch to a bus or some other type of vehicle," said Greene.
There are also checks you can do online such as state licensing records. For vehicles that travel across state lines, there is a federal database at the U.S. Department of Transportation's Safety and Fitness Electronic Records (SAFER) System website.
"When you see that [DOT] number on the side of a vehicle, you can actually go to that site, you can search on that and see the history of that company," said Greene.
FOX 5 pulled records for Prestige Limousine, the company that owns the limo that crashed. It show the company only owns three vehicles. However, there were four different occasions when vehicles had to be taken out service after recent inspections. The limo that crashed failed an inspection last month.