The horrific news from this past weekend of the limo crash in NY that killed 20 people keeps sticking in my mind. The stretched Ford Excursion allegedly blew a stop sign, then ran right into a tree, killing all 18 onboard and two innocent pedestrian bystanders. What an awful, Final Destination-like way to die. Most of the deceased where young adults in their early 30s, so it’s doubly tragic that a whole chunk of productivity and promise gets removed from the population.
When I was a kid I used to think limousines were some of the coolest vehicles on the planet. There’s something awesome about taking a typical passenger car, split it into two separate pieces, and then rejoin them with a body extension. I’ve always wanted to ride in a limo, and figured that as I became an adult I’d get the opportunity. However to this day I’ve yet to tick that box on the list, but having read about this tragedy in New York, I’m not sure I ever want to now.
It never once crossed my mind how dangerous limousines can be: essentially a structurally compromised vehicle that was never engineered for such extreme modifications. Ford didn’t produce the Excursion with limousine duty in mind: it’s raison d'être is to be an all-capable, absolutely massive sports-utility vehicle. What is the likelihood the companies in charge of hacking it into a limousines have the same battery of engineers and crash-testing methodology as an auto manufacturer?
None, that’s what. I’m not sure a single thought have been given to passenger safety when stretching standard cars into limousines. Comfort is first and foremost, isn’t it? The utter lack of safety belts and proper crash-tested seating was probably a huge factor contributing to the death of the people sat inside that Ford Excursion. What a stomach-turning sight it must have been for the first-responders: 17 bodies mashed together and piled up at the front. Surely a day that makes the job almost not worth it.
It’s been reported the particular Excursion limousine was deemed not road-ready during its most recent inspection, but the rental company flaunted that decision and operated it anyways. There’s also the lack of clarity on whether or not the driver was properly licensed to commandeer a vehicle of such mass and length. The myriad of lawsuits to to come out of this will be most interesting indeed.
The main lesson to take from this is to not get into a “limousine” ever, unless it’s a vehicle that’s meant for such capacitive duty such as a bus. Also, if your personal car isn’t road-worthy (like having super old tires), don’t tempt fate; you’re seriously endangering yourself and others on the road.