Deaths Behind the Driver
In an accident in California this year, a bride-to-be celebrating her bachelorette party was killed when a fire started in the back of the limo she and her eight friends were riding in. Four of the bride’s friends were also killed, and the four other women in the vehicle suffered burns and smoke inhalation.
The worst of it? The deaths were likely completely preventable. The fire started because of a mechanical failure that could have been avoided, and the driver didn’t pull over for a shockingly long amount of time because he thought that the women in the back were simply being loud and rowdy, as many bachelorette parties are. He couldn’t understand that they were banging on the divider because a fire had broken out.
In two other cases, women died when they were accidentally shoved or fell out of the moving vehicle at high speed. Countless other injuries have been reported when inebriated passengers were thrown about in the back of large “party” vehicles.
Accidents of this sort are becoming all too common on party buses and limousines. Is the thrill of a party vehicle really worth the risk? In a word: no.
Currently, many limousine and party bus services have no regulations for training their drivers to handle a large group of (frequently) intoxicated passengers. The drivers don’t know what good safety procedures are, and they don’t have the training to ensure that their passengers follow the rules – or what to do if their passengers refuse.
In addition to the drivers, the vehicles themselves often aren’t regulated properly. Many party vehicles weren’t originally designed to handle parties; they’re converted from regular limousines or retired school buses. While there are definitely only certain types of vehicles permitted in Chicago to be rented out as “party buses,” many operators do not follow the regulations, and it can be difficult to tell who is – since there’s no uniform licensing for this type of vehicle.
Until you can tell at a glance whether a service is up to safety standards with regard to its drivers and its vehicles, you’re risking serious safety hazards if you load up into a party vehicle of any kind.
Currently, it is legal in Chicago to stand up, dance, and otherwise move about the vehicle while it is moving – and of course, it’s legal for anyone who is not operating the vehicle to drink if they are of age. The combination of drinking, large crowds of people, a moving vehicle, and an atmosphere that actively encourages people to stand up and dance means that people are constantly flung about the vehicle and in danger of hurting themselves or others.
Many party buses feature a “dance pole” as one of the main attractions, clearly with the intent of allowing passengers to dance and try tricks on the pole. Imagine if the bus had to come to a sudden stop because a driver ahead braked suddenly – while a friend of yours was halfway up that pole. It’s not a pretty scenario, and if it doesn’t result in death, the likelihood of serious injury is extremely high.
What to Do
Until party vehicles are better regulated, it’s best to avoid them altogether. However, if you do ride on a vehicle that you believe the driver is not qualified to drive, or if the vehicle itself is clearly a remodeled shell repurposed for partying, you may have legal recourse. Contact us and we’ll help you figure out if your partying experience endangered your safety and the safety of your friends.