TAMPA, Fla. — After a deadly limo accident in New York killed 20 people, it came out the limo had recently failed an inspection and was being driven by someone without a license. Following the accident, ABC Action News began looking into limo safety in the Tampa Bay Area.
In Pinellas County, officials say they don't regulate the limo industry. Instead, individual cities within the county are free to monitor the safety of the service if they want to.
Across the bridge in Hillsborough County, however, all limousines must pass a mechanical inspection, drivers need a public vehicle license and must display a valid permit from the county tax collector.
“There are vehicle requirements for safety,” said Eric Olsen, the head of Hillsborough County Consumer Protection, which oversees all limos and their drivers in the county. “There are background checks on drivers for safety.”
For Hillsborough consumers, finding a reputable service is as easy as logging onto the tax collectors website — which lists every certified limo service.
Ben Irby, who owns Bayshore Limo, told Consumer Investigator Jackie Callaway that poor customer reviews could be an indication of safety problems.
Before the New York crash at least one of the victims complained about the condition and loud noise coming from the limo, which was built from a 2001 Ford Excursion.
Irby advises people to look over the vehicle before getting in.
“Glance at the tires of the car,” said Irby. “Make sure it has tread. Look at the body. Does it have damage?”
You can read the list of certified limo services in Hillsborough County here.