The roadside memorial to the victims of last year’s Schoharie limousine crash will be preserved in the collections of the State Museum. It’s a fitting tribute to the 20 lives lost. Making their story part of New York’s story reflects the scope of the tragedy, not only the grief it wrought but also the outpouring of compassion that followed.
But there’s a stronger, better way to honor their legacy: by making sure this type of tragedy can never happen again. And that requires finding, and fixing, the flaws in oversight and regulation that allowed the crash to occur.
The state Department of Motor Vehicles won’t say if it cited or fined the Mavis Discount Tire store that provided an inspection sticker to the stretch Ford Excursion limo. Under state law, inspection stations are supposed to refuse to inspect large stretch limos; the vehicles must be inspected by the state Department of Transportation. In the months before the Oct. 6 crash, the DOT repeatedly ordered the stretch limo off the road for serious safety violations, and a State Police consultant determined that “catastrophic brake failure” caused the crash.
The Excursion had been improperly registered with the DMV to present the vehicle as much smaller than it really was, so perhaps Mavis inspected it unwittingly. DMV officials have refused to explain how the limo made it through the inspection process.
But that’s precisely the kind of information that should be made public. A full understanding of the events leading up to this tragedy is the only way to find the loopholes and blind spots that let this limo slip through the cracks, taking 20 lives with it.
Tire fees are for tire program
Here’s an environmental success story: Nearly all of the state’s illicit tire dump sites have been cleaned up over the past 15 years. Kudos to the Department of Environmental Conservation for this notable achievement.
But a recent audit by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli came with a caution. The audit found about $5.1 million in tire fund expenses that seemed to be unrelated to tire waste management, including salaries for employees who appeared to be doing other work.
In a sprawling bureaucracy like state government, money has a way of moving around and getting used for things it wasn’t intended for. That’s not in taxpayers’ best interests.
If the waste program — funded by a $2.50 state fee on each new tire sold — no longer needs all that money, the state should lower the fee. Or amend the tire law to expand what initiatives the fund can cover. Above all, it should be kept transparent. Don’t muck up the works of a successful program.
Drive right … by driving right
Life in the fast lane? Not if Sen. Joe Griffo gets his way.
Mr. Griffo, R-Oneida County, wants drivers to keep to the right except to pass, take a left exit, or move away from an emergency vehicle. Many other states already have a similar law on the books, and for good reasons: It improves road safety and keeps traffic moving. Even left-lane drivers going the speed limit can be a hazard if they’re slower than the surrounding traffic.
After all, speeding isn’t the only unsafe driving practice; driving under the prevailing speed causes accidents, too.