PALM DESERT, Calif. - After five women died in a limousine fire in San Francisco on the San Mateo-Heyward bridge, local companies are reassuring people about safety standards.
With proms and wedding season right around the corner, limos are in high demand. La Quinta junior Nicholas Henry plans to rent a limo for his prom this year. "That way I can take more than just my date," said Henry. "I can go with all my friends and it'll be really fun."
While he's excited, the images from the San-Mateo Heyward bridge still worry him. Four of the nine women and the driver escaped the fire. "I mean you don't hear those stories that often, but that was a really sad moment there and I heard about it," said Henry. "I was really shocked that it happened."
The fire also drew concern and attention from local limo companies like Cardiff. The company operates more than 75 vehicles including 7 limousines. Sales manager Stephen Tabberer says safety, especially now, is the number one priority. "Our rules are strict and everything we do is for passenger safety," said Tabberer. "So our chauffeurs adhere to that, by the letter of the law."
Some rules the driver in the fire didn't follow. The cause is still under investigation, but he did pick up one too many passengers. "Limousines are limited to 8 passengers by state law," said Tabberer. "Some limousine companies are not aware of it."
The driver in the fire also had the partition between him and passengers up, something Cardiff does not allow. Other safety precautions include passenger doors only the driver can open and regular inspections in the garage. For prom, Cardiff enforces extra rules to make sure no one under age takes anything but water and ice from the bar area. Guardians and students alike must adhere to the "I promise" program. "We actually ask the children to sign a form, so they're aware," said Tabberer. "So they understand alcohol is not to be consumed, It's against the law and that they promise to obey the laws."
Laws Tabberer hopes will allow Cardiff to keep its passengers safe from point "A" to point "B."