How to Make Sure Your Limo Ride Is a Safe One

The limousine industry in California runs largely unregulated

By Dave Summers
|  Tuesday, Jun 11, 2013  |  Updated 11:47 AM PDT
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There are new questions about limousine safety after two limo fires in the San Francisco Bay area within the last five weeks. NBC 7's Dave Summers reports.

There are new questions about limousine safety after two limo fires in the San Francisco Bay area within the last five weeks. NBC 7's Dave Summers reports.

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There have been two limo fires in the Bay Area in the last five weeks. Both were considered unrelated accidents which begs the question, could it happen here?

A stretch limo is the icing on a special occasion cake. They're used at our most important life moments yet the vast majority of coaches in California go without state inspection.

The owner of Skye Limousines will tell you limousines are no ordinary cars.

They have two alternators, and two batteries to power stereos lights, two air conditioners and chill champagne.

The term "stretch" refers to seating but also, brake, electrical and fuel lines.

Still, for all its sophistication Limos with seating for less then 10 are exempt from state inspection. The average coach seats eight.

“Some do it better than others but we do our best,” Derek Nicodemus said.

In May, five nurses were burned to death in the back of a limo. Officials needed dental records to identify the victims.

Another Bay area Limo fire happened Sunday. Ten women, some in their 90's, using walkers and canes, were forced to evacuate.

Wedding consultant Melissa Barrad says limo service is word of mouth business.

“People are really looking for people that are on time but most importantly safe,” Barrad said.

Do your homework. Check Angie's list , the Better Business Bureau, even Google has referrals.

The U.S. Department of Transportation says five people died in limo accidents in 2010 . There were more then five times that in 2011.

“I couldn't live with that on my conscience,” Nicodemus said.

It's meant to be the ride of your life not the ride that ends your life

Some other advice from the experts:

  • Have the limo arrive early enough to kick the tires.
  • Check for safety equipment like , a spare tire, jumper cables, a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher.
  • Make sure the air conditioning works the lights, locks, and windows and sun roof are operating.

And because tragedy often brings change, at least in Skye Limos, you'll find a spare fire extinguisher and hammer under the driver seat for emergency evacuations.

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