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Utah limo companies face inspections like buses, trucks

SALT LAKE CITY — Following a limousine crash in New York State that killed 20 people, KSL Newsradio asked what kind of safety standards and regulations limo companies need in Utah.

According to the owner of VIP Limousine in Salt Lake City, limos are inspected like trucks, even though the “cargo” is totally different.

Most of Jeff Netto’s customers are not adults.

“We do mostly prom runs, quinceañera runs for the Hispanic community for girls turning 15,” Netto said.

That’s why VIP general manager and driver Philip Keeve constantly asks himself, “Is this maneuver I’m about to make going to cause them to spill their sparkling cider? And if they are going to spill their sparkling cider, that’s when we do what we can to mitigate that risk.”

Netto says the Beehive State has only 25 stretch limos, and he owns seven of them. And only two places can properly inspect and register them in the state’s behalf.

Every 90 days, Netto says specialized mechanics see the limos at VIP’s headquarters.

Keeve is upfront with customers.

“Listen, I’m sorry, I can’t get this (limo) in and out of here safely, but we can go to this place,” Keeve tells them. “It’s that interplay between client and chauffeur that is part of what makes the experience.”

Netto says his chauffeurs must have commercial driver licenses to operate his stretch limos that carry more than 14 passengers. And he says he retrains truck drivers to handle his limos.

He adds seatbelts would not have saved the 20 lives lost in the limo crash in Schoharie, New York last week. Passengers sit side to side and could fly in different directions, especially with nothing in front of them to stop them.

“I would say a double shoulder strap would be the safest. A side strap wouldn’t work because it depends what side you put it on, or which way they’re going. You would need a double strap like you’re in a racecar.”

Utah law does not require limo passengers to wear seatbelts.