28 Jan 2008 09:45 AM
New package of measures to improve stretched limousine safety

DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT News Release (011) issued by The Government News Network on 28 January 2008

The first part of a new package of measures to help improve the safe operation of stretched limousines and keep unlawful vehicles off the road has been unveiled today by Road Safety Minister Jim Fitzpatrick.

New guidance, published today, will sit alongside new stringent pre-registration checks coming into force in the summer to make sure stretched limousines with more than eight passenger seats meet GB safety and environmental standards.

Jim Fitzpatrick said:

"The popularity of stretched limousines has soared in Britain and we are determined to ensure that they are used safely. We all know that limousines are great for parties, but it is important that these vehicles meet the required construction standards and are properly licensed and registered.

"This new guidance will help operators to ensure that their vehicles can lawfully be used on our roads. In the summer we will also be introducing a strict pre-registration check to help make sure unsafe stretched limos are kept off our roads."

The new guidance - developed after seeking the views of the limousine industry - details the safety, registration and licensing requirements needed to be met before passengers can lawfully be carried.

The new pre-registration safety inspection will ensure that new larger limousines comply with GB construction standards. Only vehicles that meet strict requirements on weights, dimensions, turning circle, seating, brakes, tyres, doors, lamps and reflectors and glazing will be able to pass the inspection.

The publication of the guidance comes as the Government tightens the law around Private Hire Vehicle (PHV) licensing. From today, owners of vehicles with up to eight passenger seats - including limousines - which were previously considered exempt from PHV licensing under the "contract exemption" must be licensed as a PHV. This means that passengers in these vehicles - including children or vulnerable adults - can be assured that the driver, vehicle and operator will have been through the proper checks.

Notes to Editors

1. Limousines are required to comply with safety standards appropriate to the number of passengers that can be carried. The law also requires limousines which convey paying passengers to be licensed.

2. The Department considers that limousines with up to 8 passenger seats which have been issued with Single Vehicle Approval (SVA) certificate and correctly registered with DVLA are safe for road use and in most cases will be suitable for licensing as Private Hire Vehicles (PHV), so long as they are maintained properly.

3. A limousine with more than 8 passenger seats is required to have a Certificate of Initial Fitness (COIF) if it is to be used on the road to convey paying passengers commercially. These limousines are classed as Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) and their operators require a PSV Operator's licence (O-licence) from the Traffic Commissioners

4. The new pre-registration check, due to come into force on 1 June 2008, will ensure vehicles with more than eight passenger seats without a COIF cannot be registered without meeting required safety and environmental standards. The check will be carried out by the Vehicle & Operator Services Agency (VOSA).

5. At the same time the DfT will tighten the Single Vehicle Approval (SVA) scheme to withdraw the option to self-declare that a vehicle will not be used to carry more than eight seated passengers.

6. Section 53 of the Road Safety Act 2006 repeals section 75(1)(b) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous provisions) Act 1976 - "the contract exemption". It comes into force on 28 January 2008. It applies in England and Wales (outside London). A similar provision which will bring PHVs dedicated to contract work in London (section 54) will come into force on 31 March 2008. The guidance note is on the Department's web-site: http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/regional/taxis/rsa06privatehirevehicles

7. New guidance for limousine operators can be found at http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/regional/taxis/limousines

Public Enquiries: 020 7944 8300
Department for Transport Website: http://www.dft.gov.uk