Five passengers died when their rented limousine burst into flames on a California highway. The cause is still under investigation, but the fire raises concerns about the safety of rented limousines.
According to the Washington State Department of Licensing, there are 729 registered limousine companies operating 1,314 vehicles in the state as of April 1, 2013. All companies must have liability insurance and have their vehicles inspected annually. Chauffeurs must also be registered and undergo training courses.
Safety equipment varies greatly in different vehicles. Larger party busses fall under different regulations and are required to have more emergency exits in addition to fire extinguishers. Stretch limos and stretch SUVs are not required to have either, although some companies still carry fire extinguishers in all their vehicles.
Tyler Lehmann owns the local Blackstone Limousine company and hopes safety lessons can be learned from the deadly fire.
“I don’t see this affecting business,” said Lehmann. “I see a consumer being a little more conscious about who they rent a car from.”
Customers interested in learning more about a company before booking a ride can visit the Department of Licensing website here and verify a company’s standing.