Deadly limo fire has lawmakers questioning CPUC

May 8, 2013 8:35:23 PM PDT
State lawmakers are raising new concerns about the safety of limousines in the wake of last Saturday's deadly San Mateo Bridge accident. They grilled the executive director of the California Public Utilities Commission Wednesday because thousands of teens will be taking limos to proms.

A deadly limousine fire on the San Mateo Bridge killed five nurses, one of whom was a bride has alarmed state lawmakers. Limos carrying less than 10 passengers, like the one involved in that tragedy, are regulated by the CPUC, an agency under heavy scrutiny for its lax oversight that led to the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion.

"Here's another accident or another tragedy that happened in California under the Public Utilities Commission," Assm. Nora Campos, D-San Jose, said.

Very concerning is the thousands of California teenagers headed to prom over the next several weeks.

"What are you doing to assure those parents in that the limos their children are getting into are safe," Assm. Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, asked.

The CPUC says Californians can look up on its website each of the 9,000 limos it regulates.

"The PUC has verified the number of passengers that vehicle can carry, the license of the driver, the insurance the vehicle is required to carry," CPUC Executive Director Paul Clannon said.

"Are there specific vehicle code sections that deal with the intergrity, the structural change to those vehicles," Assm. Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, asked.

"I don't know," Clannon said.

The gravity of San Bruno and the numerous audits that concluded safety is not a priority at the CPUC rattles Campos.

"I'm not confident that the Public Utilities Commission has done the best that they can make sure that limousines are safe," Campos said.

ABC7 News asked Clannon if he would be comfortable putting his children in a limo for prom season.

"Yes, I would; people should be assured the PUC and Highway Patrol making sure limos are safe.," he answered.

While the investigation into the limo fire is still pending, Assm. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, is ready with a measure to require fire extinguishers in all limos. Currently it's only mandatory for those carrying more than 10 passengers.


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