BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - An upstate New York limousine crash that left 20 people dead on October 6, 2018 has local limousine companies on high alert over safety regulations and certifications.
The Now's Tori Cooper spoke to one local company to find out how viewers at home can determine if a limousine company is legitimate and safe for you to use.
Limousine companies told Cooper that it's not uncommon to end up in a limousine that has a suspended or revoked license and that it's important to know how to spot red flags ahead of time.
The president of the Bakersfield Limousine and Transport, Chrissi Tessaro said the limousine accident in upstate New York is a reminder for consumers to be cautious before booking their next ride, "Well I've seen unfortunately here in Bakersfield locally a lot of people will have qualified for a TCP and then they get revoked or suspended which means that they're not following the proper procedures so the state of California takes that away. But unfortunately consumers don't know that and so they see that TCP and think everything is ok when in reality it's not."
Tessaro said a TCP number is the individual license number that is granted to every limousine company by the state of California after they have passed thorough inspection, "We have to follow a very strict set of standards. We get annually inspected by the California Highway Patrol (CHP), we're also Department of Transportation federally regulated in order to get that number. Once you get that number it's placed on all the vehicles."
Tessaro said CHP inspection officers will look at the inside, the outside as well as the maintenance logs before the vehicle can be officially added to the fleet under the company TCP number and ready to pick up passengers, "For instance this is our TCP number it's on all of our vehicles and so each company has it's own unique one," Tessaro said while pointing to the back of one of the company limousines.
So you should always be on the lookout for this number. If the company doesn't have a TCP number displayed on the outside of the car it's not a licensed company according to Tessaro. It's also important to type in the TCP number on the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) website and check to see if the company you are thinking about booking with is still actively licensed, or has been suspended or revoked.
Cooper typed in Tessaro's TCP number in the carrier ID field on the (CPUC) website to ensure her limousine company was also legitimately licensed through the state. Not only did it show that her company was licensed through the state but it also showed company insurance policy numbers, phone numbers, addresses and evidence of the company’s class b certification, which allows them to carry passengers.
Tessaro said her drivers also have to pass an inspection before they are allowed to drive company vehicles, "Each of our drivers go through a background check, we do a pre-employment drug screen, we also enroll every driver into a random so they are definitely safe that way. We also make sure they have a medical certification file and then we also have an extensive in house safety program where we do monthly and weekly safety trainings."
However, safety certifications are not the only thing to be on the look out for. Tessaro said if your driver is not wearing a uniform, or carrying a business card and or any sort of identification with the company you looked into then it's a red flag.
Lastly Tessaro said the last thing to check is that all vehicles have an emergency exit, "This is one of our emergency exits it's in our roof so if anything were to happen and you couldn't get out via one of the doors you could also go through the emergency hatch which is located at the top."
On the CPUC website you can also see a list of all of the companies that have an active, revoked, or suspended license in Kern County. Make sure that you ask for the company TCP number so that you can look it up here and that the contact information listed on the website matches the contact information for the company you reached out to.