By Paul Pannone
It is almost without fail that we hear about a tragedy this time of the year involving a limousine. This time five women, including a new bride, were killed when fire engulfed a stretch limousine carrying them to a party in California. Witnesses say the passengers were trapped inside a white Lincoln Town Car traveling from Alameda to Foster City. Among the dead was 31-year-old Neriza Fojas, recently married in the United States, planning to travel to the Philippines for a ceremony with friends and family.
A tragic limousine fire takes the life of a bride out on the town with her friends.
The driver, Orville Brown, said at first he misunderstood what one of the passengers in the back was saying when she complained about smelling smoke. The car, owned by Limo Stop, said in a statement: “We are deeply saddened by the tragedy last night involving the young women, five of whom lost their lives in the limousine fire on the San Mateo Bridge.”
In a press release the National Limousine Association said:
“With regard to yesterday’s tragic limousine fire in Northern California, the National Limousine Association would like to extend our condolences to the families affected. We are not aware of the cause of the incident and will not speculate.
It is unusual for limousines to be involved in this these types of accidents. There are 110,000 chauffeured vehicles in service in the United States according to the limousine industry trade magazine, Limousine, Charter and Tours. They make thousands upon thousands of trips per year. Incidents like this are truly an anomaly.
Our industry, through the National Limousine Association educational programs, regularly participates in safety training at our national trade shows.
We will continue to monitor the situation and provide statements when necessary.”
eWedNewz continues to watch the limousine business and steady changes taking place since 2000 when the use of limousines has steadily declined.
“In general, the bulk of the limousine industry is made up primarily of 1-5 car operators, most of whom rely on night and weekend business, especially wedding business. Most of these operators have stretch limousines in their fleet.
In general the use of traditional stretch limousines has declined in recent years, most definitely in the business community but even in general amongst the public. And the average hourly rental has probably declined as well. I am sure this has affected a number of small operators. Pricing has plummeted as operators large and small try to keep their limousines busy and out on the streets. Dropping prices is not a marketing strategy though and yes, that has hurt our industry. There are always exceptions and unique market situations, but in general as budgets have tightened, the use of limousines has declined.
In most cases transportation is a relatively easy expense to either eliminate or pare down in a wedding budget. However one trend that has become more consistent especially on larger weddings is the use of the “people mover” vehicles such as mini buses & trolleys to shuttle the entire wedding party along with the bride and groom. A step up from that might be a “limousine coach” that may hold 12-20+ passengers. There are of course the “mega” limousine often times converted on an SUV chassis that may also be used for 12-20 passengers. So when some type of transportation is needed for logistics or the wedding party wants to be together, have champagne and enjoys time together as a group, some sort of “people mover” is a great and practical option.
Even the use of a luxury sedan for the bride and groom in lieu of a limousine is more commonplace if they want some time alone both after the ceremony and possibly after the reception to their hotel.
The days of all day limousine rentals, sometimes multiple limousines for weddings are all but gone. Many limousine operators have diversified their fleets in the last several years to offer more choices for all of their clients, and this has definitely contributed to the change in vehicle options used at weddings.
Limousines are still a popular choice for 2 or 3 couples going out for a special occasion, concert, etc. They don’t want to drink and drive and they want to be together in a comfortable vehicle. The noticeable trend in most wedding markets is the use of shuttle buses and if the budget allows, luxury coaches and trolleys. On a per person basis, they are very affordable and fun.”
In the past decade stricter drinking laws enforced by police and clearer language involving legal aspects in the use of limousines resulted in a more safe environment. In New York the Law firm of Gary E. Rosenberg reports on their website:
Under New York No-Fault law, passengers in limo accidents are covered for their hospital, medical bills and lost wages by the limo’s insurance policy. Once upon a time, limo drivers were not covered by No-Fault (and today still are not) because they operated the limos for pay so at the time of a limo accident would be in the course of their employment, and entitled only to Worker’s Compensation benefits.
But due to economic reasons limousine equipment could be aging. eWedNewz investigates the slowdown in replacing aging equipment, purchases in new stretch limos and the extended use of used cars in the transportation business.
All Rights Reserved