Visitors to Covent Garden today witnessed a limo being cut up as part of a multi-agency campaign warning of the dangers of hiring unlicensed and uninsured novelty vehicles.
Members of the the London Fire Brigade cut their way into the limo to demonstrate the challenges they face rescuing the occupants when the vehicles are involved in an accident.
Onlookers were told how the restricted, single rear door nature of vehicles could hamper rescue efforts, requiring firefighters to cut into the vehicle in order to evacuate passengers.
The demonstration was supported by London Ambulance Service, Transport for London, the Met Police and Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA).
Since 2012 the agencies have run 19 joint operations, carrying out 338 roadside checks and seizing 27 vehicles. A further 232 banned from being driven on public roads.
The car used during today’s exercise was seized by the Met for failing safety standards, when it was stopped it was found to be carrying 12 passengers despite only be licensed for 8.
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.”
Sir Peter Hendy, London’s Transport Commissioner, 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 thinking of hiring a limo are being urged to ensure the operator is properly licensed and the vehicle is insured.
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.”