Appointments to New York state's limousine safety task force were announced Wednesday by Gov. Kathy Hochul on the three-year anniversary of a crash in Schoharie that killed 20 people.
The task force, which also includes appointees from the state Legislature, will study and recommend regulations and rules to oversee the industry in New York.
Some state lawmakers are willing to consider further regulating the industry after bolstering requirements for licensing, inspection and seat belt requirements.
But businesses, including representatives of the industry, argued that instead of new regulations, the overlapping agencies that hold jurisdiction over limousines lack communication and need to be resolved.
Hochul's appointees include Westchester County Director of Operaitons Joan McDonald and Matt Driscoll, the executive director of the state Thruway Authority.
"As we mark the three-year anniversary of the tragic crash, we must honor the memory of these individuals by realizing our obligation to review every single aspect of limousine transportation and help prevent such tragedies," Gov. Hochul said. "With all recommendations for the task force now in, I am directing the task force to convene without further delay and commit to a timeline for conducting and submitting its review of safety measures, so we can better protect every passenger and others who share the road."
The task will also include the commissioners of the Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Tansportation and the superintendent of the State Police.
State lawmakers have already put in place regulatory and other safety measures in response to the crash and regulations have also been debated at the federal level.
"This is the task force that brings together experts, brings together our commissioners to make sure something like this never happens again," said state Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara.
A report from the panel could recommend further regulations or bills for lawmakers to consider in 2022, when the new legislative session convenes.
"Vehicles change, we're not all experts in this, there's modifications that are made to them," Santabarbara said. "There are certainly safety improvements that are available that may not have been available 10 years ago. So do we need to pass further legislation?"
But David Brown, of Premier Limousine, said instead of regulation, what's needed is better communication between state agencies that oversee transportation safety.
"If there's better communication between all these different agencies, we don't need further regulation. We can get the job done," Brown said.
Brown is one of the appointees to the task force representing the limousine industry. He says the industry is already tightly regulated and gotten safer since the crash three years ago.
"Ninety-nine percent of the apples out there, they're good companies," he said. "They want to do the right thing. You have one or two bad apples and no matter what they're going to try to skirt the law."
Consumers should do their research before contracting with a company, he added.
"Buyer beware," he said. "Do research. Don't go for the cheapest price. That might not be your best alternative."