As prom and wedding season kick into high gear, this is the time of year when many requests are made for 10-and 12-passenger limousines. You may or may not know it, but there are no QVM- or CMS-certified limousines in existence that accommodate that many passengers. For example, the maximum seating capacity for 120-inch QVM-certified Lincoln limousine is nine – eight rear passengers and one driver. Some allow even less. It depends on how many bells and whistles are added to the vehicle. Extra features add to the gross vehicle weight (GVW).
The LCT staff randomly called 25 operators from Yellow Page listings and asked if they had a 10-plus passenger super-stretch. Interestingly enough, every operator who had a 120-inch QVM-certified limousine in his or her fleet answered “yes.” The operators I spoke to had no idea they were stating anything incorrect.
For those of you who have super-stretches and want to verify the vehicle’s seating capacity, just count the number of seatbelts in the back. A certified coachbuilder cannot build a limousine that weighs more that 7,100 pounds (Lincoln) or 7,200 pounds (Cadillac). Seating factors into the overall weight restriction – 150 pounds per person, including the driver.
Listed below is the QVM Lincoln Town Car seating allowance for limousines.
- A designated seating position should be at least 16.5 inches wide, but not exceed 20 inches.
- By law, each position must have a seatbelt.
- Any restricted seating area that is large enough for a seated position must incorporate some means to restrict its us (i.e. armrest, equipment). Removal of seatbelts and/or use of placard are not sufficient.
This information is important because you may be unintentionally placing your passengers in danger when you allow too many people in the back of your super-stretch. Further, from a marketing perspective, why not try to up sell large parties into renting two limousines, or a limo-bus, if you have one?
What can be done if your competitors are ignoring safety codes and marketing 10-plus passenger limousines? One group of operators in New Jersey met at their local association and agreed to all stand together on this issue. They invited the local police department to their meeting and worked with them to set up a sting operation at several local high schools. The sting operation was a success as 21 operators were cited for violations, including limousines that were carrying too many passengers.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which supervises our roads, does not police our industry effectively. The QVM and CMC programs oversee the limousines conversion processes to ensure safety is a manufacturing priority. However, once the limousine is built and sold, it becomes the operator’s responsibility to do the right thing.
The good news is, there are more ethical limousines services than unethical ones. When made aware of the potential hazards and liabilities, most operators chose to play it safe and run their business with a clear conscience.