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Ellen Corbett introduces limousine-safety bill

After two Bay Area limousine fires in less more than a month, California State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett is pushing for new safety measures.

SB 109 by Corbett, D-San Leandro, would require two exit doors in the rear portion of a limousine, and at least two windows that can be pushed out in the passenger compartment, in order to allow a fast evacuation if there’s a fire or other emergency.

Ellen CorbettThe California Public Utilities Commission oversees the limousine industry, but has been criticized for not being more proactive in responding to safety needs, Corbett said.

“Though four young women luckily survived the horrible fire on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge, the fact remains that five women perished unnecessarily and in a way that seems both incomprehensible and preventable,” she said in her news release. “SB 109 will hopefully ensure that a tragedy such as the one that occurred on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge on that fateful night never again happens. Families should not have to suffer the horrible pain associated with losing a loved one in this tragic manner. This legislation simply strengthens limo safety requirements in California by making sure that passengers can evacuate the vehicle quickly in the case of an emergency.”

The limo blaze on the bridge occurred May 4. In another incident, a group of elderly women escaped injury Sunday in Rossmoor when their limousine caught fire.

This is a “gut and amend,” in which the language of a previously introduced bill is being replaced with entirely new subject matter; SB 109 originally dealt with letting vehicles exceed length limits in order to accommodate aerodynamic devices that decrease drag and increase airflow over tractor-trailers.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • JohnW

    Have they investigated who did the custom “stretch” work on the two limos that caught fire? Common link? Seems pretty strange that I’ve never heard of this type of thing before; and, then, we get two incidents in the Bay Area in little more than a month’s time.

  • RR senile columnist

    I’m no populist but when did stretch limos become a major public concern?

  • M McL

    A lot of the booze-cruise bus rides have people un-buckled and standing up.