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Why modified stretch limos can be deadly

Americans hire limousines for everything from high school dances to weddings to a night on the town. They can make people feel special, and also allow partygoers to indulge in alcohol (often provided in the limo) without risking a DUI.

Modified stretch limousines are particularly popular, and are often used as party buses. These vehicles started out as SUVs or sedans. Then, they are cut in half and custom-built to accommodate additional passengers.

But how much do you really know about your limo or its driver? Limousines aren't subject to the kind of federal safety regulations that commercial vehicles -- or even passenger vehicles -- are, in some cases. For example, because they're custom-made, modified stretch limos don't have to undergo crash-testing. State regulations vary.

One man who inspects stretch limos says that the people who custom-build these luxury vehicles often prioritize amenities over safety. He says, "What they would do is put a beautiful bar in there, beautiful seating, and all the amenities to have the niceness, and put the weakness in the infrastructure."

In recent years, two tragedies that exemplify the dangers of modified stretch limos made headlines. In 2015, four people were killed and four others were injured when a limo carrying a group of young women to a birthday celebration in New York was struck by a truck. Last year, 20 people were killed during another New York birthday celebration. The limo was later found to have failed multiple inspections and the driver reportedly wasn't licensed to drive that type of vehicle.

Both the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are calling for safety reforms for limos. Sen. Schumer notes, "Limos fall in between the cracks . . . You can make a limo in one state and it drives in another state and there's nothing that that second state can do about it . . .The safety of a limo is no different in Montana, Texas, Florida or New York. So there should be one standard."

The National Limo Association says it's committed to improving safety standards and supporting "prudent and consequential safety regulations."

If you or a loved one is injured or worse in a limo crash in Missouri or Illinois, it's essential to determine the cause(s). An experienced personal injury attorney can help you seek justice and compensation from any individuals and entities who are at fault.

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