Firefighters in London have sawn up a stretch limousine to highlight the dangers of illegal limos in London. The stunt took place in Covent Garden yesterday where a team of firefighters from the London Fire Brigade sawed the doors off the novelty vehicle in front of bystanders and passers-by. It was part of a multi-organisation campaign to make people aware of the potential dangers that unlicensed and uninsured limos pose to the public. The London Ambulance Service, Transport For London and Met Police and Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) were all supporting the cause.
The purpose of the operation was to demonstrate how difficult it was to free people trapped in the wreck of a limo after it’s been involved in an accident. Onlookers were informed about how the nature of limo doors makes restricted access to and from the vehicle, meaning that fire fighters often have to cut the sides off the limo to evacuate passengers. The fact that there is only a rear door, means rescue efforts are often hampered if there is limited access. It took the team of fire fighters to get the first ‘casualty’ out of the car.
Since 2012, 27 illegal limousines have been seized by agencies, and a further 232 banned from being driven on public roads.
The white stretch limousine which was cut up during the demonstration had actually been seized by authorities for carrying more than its licensed number of passengers and failing safety standards.
Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said the demonstration was “a great opportunity for the public to see our skills in action, and hopefully it will make them think twice about hiring an illegal limo.”
London’s Transport Commissioner, Sir Peter Hendy, warned that firms operating unlicensed vehicles could be shut down. He also said “illegal limousines present a real threat and danger to the safety of people who hire them.”
Londoners are being reminded to make sure a limo operator is properly insured and licensed before they go about hiring a vehicle off them.
Heather Cruickshank, VOSA’s Operations Director said: “The majority of limousine operators are licensed and use their vehicles responsibly, but there is a sizeable minority that does not operate in this way – and the public must be alert to this risk.
“Only booking with licensed operators is the best way of minimising the risks to themselves and other road users – and helps send a clear message to those who chose to try and trade unlawfully.”