Limousine safety: Book a safe ride

By: Alicia Gentile Email
By: Alicia Gentile Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- With the warmer months quickly approaching, weddings and wine season may be reasons to rent a limo.

But a recent tragedy in California-- in which five women died in a limo fire-- has people wondering about limousine safety.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, automobile fires were accounted for only 10 percent of reported U.S. fires and 6 percent of U.S. fire deaths. Even though the risk is low, it's important to choose the right limousine company when booking a ride.

Orville Brown, the driver of the limousine in California, said the accident happened fast.

"Within maybe two minutes from us stopping-- maybe 90 seconds-- it [limo] was engulfed in flames," said Brown.

A bridal shower turned tragic when the limousine caught on fire. Five of the nine women died and the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Now, the accident has many concerned about limousine safety.

Grand Junction Firefighter Derek Trombetta says the chance of an automobile igniting in flames is very low.

"It is not very often. Typically what you're going to find is on older makes of vehicles or cars that are already experiencing mechanical problems already," said Trombetta.

But it's still important to choose your limo driver carefully, starting with the company.

Shirleen Hutton, the President of Absolute Prestige Limousine service, has been in business for 14 years and says her business is highly regulated.

“We’re regulated by the Colorado PUC. It's called the Public Utilities Commission, and we get audited, and it's safety audits," said Hutton.

Hutton says the audits inspect the limousines and company's files and makes sure the drivers are safe.

Michael Bush, a CDL driving instructor at Sage Driving Schools, says in Colorado, a CDL driver's license isn't required to drive a limo.

“As far as I know right now they just have to have a regular driver's license like anybody else would. I don't think there's any special training that's involved,” said Bush.

Officials at Absolute Prestige say several of their drivers have a CDL license and the Colorado PUC also makes sure their drivers are qualified.

“We make sure the drivers are of age and, like I said, fingerprinted and have a background check and make sure that they are qualified," said Hutton.


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