Ottawa’s limousine industry reacts to deadly New York crash

Limousine drivers in Ottawa are shocked and saddened following a deadly limousine crash in New York Saturday that killed 20 people.

On Tuesday, while Richard Steeves from Elite Limousines conducts his routine safety check, he says he’s thinking of that fatal crash.

“20 people, a stretch, what could have happened? That’s the question on my mind,” Steeves said.

New York’s Governor says the driver of the vehicle involved in that fatal crash did not have the right license, and that the vehicle had recently failed an inspection.

“It was not supposed to be on the road,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Steeves says in Ontario there are strict safety regulation to follow to prevent incidents, but says some drivers have broken the rules.

“They’re crossing their fingers every time they pull into a stop, their breaks are so bad,” Steeves said.

The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is working to get unsafe vehicles off the road.

In Ontario a limousine that holds 10 passengers or more is recognized as a bus, and must follow the same rules put in place for commercial vehicles. Those rules are as follows:

  • To ensure the safety of buses in Ontario all buses must undergo commercial vehicle safety inspections by a licensed Motor Vehicle Inspection Station and meet provincial vehicle safety standards semi-annually.
  • A bus must pass the provincial standards before it can be safely driven on the road.
  • In addition, the driver would have required a class F driver’s license, required in Ontario to drive any bus with seats for 10 or more passengers, but not more than 24 passengers.
  • A driver is not permitted to drive a bus unless the driver or another person has, within the previous 24 hours, conducted an inspection of the vehicle and completed an inspection report. The driver must continue to check all systems throughout the day for defects, because the condition of the vehicle can change.
  • Ministry enforcement officers monitor safety by inspecting buses at the place of trip origin, the destination, or at bus terminals to make sure that vehicles are mechanically fit, drivers are properly licensed and that bus companies have met their legislated obligations, including periodic inspections.
  • We continually strive to ensure that the buses on our roads are safe. During the 12 month period between January and December 2017, ministry enforcement officers conducted 4,252 bus inspections.
  • We also issue their authority to operate and monitor a bus operator’s on road performance which can and has led to cancelation of their authority to operate buses (in this case limos) in the past.

The owner of Elite Limousines, who is also a member of Ontario’s Limousine Owners Association, says safety is a top priority.

“I know in my company, we have a big policy in following these standards with the MTO,” said Hussain Mahmoud.

Next Monday, there is an annual general meeting for limousine drivers taking place in Toronto. Mahmoud said safety standards will be addressed in this province.

“This will be the first thing on our agenda, to make sure other companies have the appropriate drivers, with the appropriate license to drive certain vehicles, and insurance wise as well,” he added.