The state of Michigan has scaled back its enforcement of safety laws related to limousines even as the number of limousines in the state has increased, according to a newspaper’s review published Sunday.
In October, citing budget cuts, the Michigan Department of Transportation halted inspectors’ regular, unannounced visits to limo garages, sporting events and concerts, the Detroit Free Press reported.
State laws require large insurance policies and annual safety checks for all commercial limos. They also require limo companies or their insurers to regularly check their drivers’ driving records.
Michigan has more than 600 registered limousine companies. That’s twice as many as in 1997, when a limousine crash in the Detroit suburb of Birmingham injured two Red Wings players and the team masseur six days after the team won the Stanley Cup.
Since 1997, the number of registered limos, not including limo buses, has jumped from 1,100 to 2,600, the newspaper said.
“Either the law has to be changed, or 600 law enforcement agencies in the state have to enforce the law,” said David Sucha, who heads Michigan Department of Transportation’s limousine registration unit. “We are a regulatory agency; we are not an enforcement agency.”
Sucha’s office relies heavily on law-abiding limousine operators to turn in companies that don’t follow rules.
Drivers for legitimate companies often cruise parking areas at events to get license numbers of competitors whose limos don’t display inspection stickers, said Richard Greiner, president of the Great Lakes Limousine Association.
“If that sticker’s not there, I would not even get into the vehicle,” he said.
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