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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A limousine crash that killed 20 people in upstate New York is now raising questions about how to be sure what you’re renting through a limo or driving service, is safe.
There are 30 safety regulators here in Philadelphia in charge of inspecting about 100 limo companies. Experts say on average, limo services are good but as a consumer, you still need to be on guard.
In the state of New York, seatbelts are not mandatory for passengers riding in the back of a limo but here in Pennsylvania, all passengers are required to wear them.
“When they get in the car, we recommend please put your seatbelts on,” said Ali Shirazi, of Ali Baba Limousine Company.
Shirazi has owned the company for four decades. He’s one of about 100 limousine companies legally operating in Philadelphia.
“We have mechanics. Always check the cars and everything before they go out,” said Shirazi.
The Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) checks the inspections and safety regulations of all 2,000 limos within the city.
The Public Utility Commission, or PUC, checks for the rest of the state.
“What advice would you give for consumers?” asks reporter Chantee Lans.
“First of all, whether you get into a taxi limo or an Uber-Lyft vehicle, if you see a complaint and you’re in Philadelphia, report it,” says Scott Petri, executive director of the PPA.
Petri says to also make sure the limo driver is licensed, had a background check and regularly trained.
Look around for possible damage to the vehicle and one clear sign is looking for that inspection sticker, how much of their vehicles are insured and when do they expire.
The Ford Excursion in Saturday’s deadly accident was changed or modified by the limo company before the crash.
“It is legal to modify them but you are altering the manufacturer’s specifications. They should be certified and inspected by an engineer,” said Petri.
There is currently no state law in Pennsylvania requiring limo companies to show proof of an inspection on modified vehicles by an engineer.
Background checks and certifications are also required for limousine drivers in both New Jersey and Delaware.