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Bay Area Lawmaker’s Bill Targets Limo Safety After Recent Fires

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Firefighters on the scene of a fatal limousine fire on the San Mateo Bridge on May 4, 2013. (CBS)

Firefighters on the scene of a fatal limousine fire on the San Mateo Bridge on May 4, 2013. (CBS)

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SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — In response to a deadly limousine fire on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge last month, East Bay lawmaker Ellen Corbett has introduced legislation that would add safety features in limos.

The proposed law would require limos to have two rear exit doors in the passenger compartment, as well as two windows that could be pushed out from the inside in the event of a fire or other emergency.

Corbett introduced the legislation on Monday, one day after a separate incident in Walnut Creek’s Rossmoor community in which 10 elderly women safely escaped a limo as it caught fire.

The Rossmoor fire came a little over a month after the May 4 limo fire on the San Mateo Bridge that killed five women, including a new bride, as the group headed to a bridal celebration in Foster City. Four other women survived by crawling out through the driver’s compartment.

Corbett called the deaths “incomprehensible and preventable.”

“This legislation simply strengthens limo safety requirements in California by making sure that passengers can evacuate quickly in the event of an emergency,” Corbett said in a statement.

The California Highway Patrol is still investigating the cause of the fatal fire, Officer Art Montiel said.

The California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates limousine safety, is continuing to investigate both limo fires.

The vehicle that caught fire in Walnut Creek was owned and operated by TownCar SF, CPUC spokesman Andrew Kotch said Tuesday.

The CPUC had no record of any enforcement actions against the carrier, but the company received two administrative suspensions in 2011, one for failing to have workers’ compensation insurance on file with the state, and a second for failing to have liability insurance on file, Kotch said.

Corbett’s proposed safety legislation is currently in the Assembly Transportation Committee for consideration.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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