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    Episode 141: Schoharie Limousine Crash

    enSeptember 21, 2023

    Podcast Summary

    • Exploring Engineering Disasters: Limousine Crash in Schoharie and Climate Change ImpactsThis podcast episode discusses the 2018 limousine disaster in Schoharie, New York, and its causes, along with the potential devastating effects of climate change on cities like Durna in Libya.

      The podcast "Engineering Disasters" discusses various transportation disasters, including the worst one in the US in 2018 involving a limousine in Schoharie, New York. The hosts, Justin Rosnick (he/him), Alex Kordokali (she/her), and Liam Anderson (he/him), share their perspectives while sitting in their respective gaming chairs, with Justin having a real leather one. They also touch on current events, such as the potential impact of climate change on cities like Durna in Libya, where 20,000 people have died. The tone shifts between serious discussions and light-hearted banter, making for an engaging listening experience. The podcast aims to provide in-depth analysis of engineering disasters, with a promise to cover the news in full at a later time.

    • Historical neglect and political instability fuel humanitarian crisis in LibyaLibya's unequal development, political instability, and climate change have led to a humanitarian crisis and mass migration, requiring significant investment and a nuanced approach to address root causes.

      The provinces of Tripolitani and Saranayaka in Libya have faced vastly different fates, with Tripolitani being the more prosperous region, home to the capital Tripoli and Gaddafi's patronage network, while Saranayaka in the east has long been underinvested and prone to rebellion. This historical context, combined with the impact of extreme weather events like Storm Daniel, which caused two dams to overflow and killed thousands, has led to a humanitarian crisis and a surge in migration. The situation is further complicated by the region's turbulent political history and the fact that Libya serves as an exit point for migrants attempting to reach Europe. The Mediterranean Sea, which is experiencing unprecedented heat and instability, is likely to produce more such crises in the future. Ultimately, the root causes of these crises can be traced back to a combination of historical neglect, political instability, and the effects of climate change. Addressing these root causes would require significant investment, political stability, and a more nuanced approach to migration and border control.

    • UAW Strike for Higher Wages vs. Electric Vehicle CostsThe UAW is on strike for higher wages and traditional pensions, while automakers argue for lower wages to produce electric vehicles at lower costs. The UAW's financial situation and Trump's involvement add complexity to the situation.

      The United Auto Workers (UAW) are currently on strike for higher wages and traditional pensions, and the automakers are arguing for lower wages to produce electric vehicles at lower costs. The UAW is asking for steep wage increases due to previous leadership's lack of focus on wage increases. The media is trying to create a conflict between the union and electric vehicle policies, with Trump planning to visit the picket line and Biden not doing so. The UAW has enough funds for a strike, but there's no clear information on a strike fund. The strike is seen as a significant event, with some comparing Trump to a Peron-like figure. A limousine, which is a type of luxury vehicle, is named after a region in France called Limousin, which in turn is named after the Limousin coat, a long cloak with a hood. The term comes from the horse-drawn carriage era, where the wealthy would ride in the open coach while the driver was exposed to the elements.

    • The History of Limousines and Coach BuildingLimousines, once custom-built through coach building, now mainly consist of stretched cars, irreversibly damaging the original vehicle to fit more people, reflecting the enduring desire for personalization and luxury.

      Limousines are large luxury cars designed for chauffeurs, and they have a rich history of being custom-built to order. This process, known as coach building, was common for a long time, especially for body-on-frame cars. However, with the advent of unibody frames, coach building became more complicated and largely came to a close, except for the niche application of stretch limousines. These vehicles are made by adding length to an existing car, often irreversibly damaging it in the process. The primary reason for this is to fit more people in the limousine. However, it's important to note that this trend may not be sustainable, and it's recommended to avoid stretching cars under 25 years old. Overall, the history of limousines and coach building showcases the desire for personalization and luxury, even if it comes at a cost.

    • Creating a Stretch Limousine: Cutting, Adding, and CustomizingStretch limousines are created by cutting a luxury car in half, adding steel rails, and customizing the interior with seats, a bar, and safety features.

      The process of building a stretch limousine involves taking a used luxury car, cutting it in half around the B pillar, adding light gauge steel rails and extending the drive shaft. The interior is then fitted with seats, a bar, and side panels, including a crash bar. Optional safety improvements can be made, but these vehicles are primarily designed to carry more passengers and are much more difficult to drive as a result. Despite the complexity and potential safety concerns, some companies still create stretch limousines through custom coach building.

    • Challenges with stretch limousinesStretch limos add weight, weaken handling, increase wear on parts, are not designed for daily use, and safety measures vary greatly.

      Stretch limousines, while popular for their customizable and luxurious features, come with significant drawbacks. These vehicles, which are often custom-built, add a lot of weight without fundamentally changing the frame, weakening the handling and increasing wear and tear on parts. They are not designed for the hard use and daily wear that fleet vehicles like police cars and taxis undergo, and each one is unique, making maintenance more challenging. Despite the risks, stretch limos are not strictly regulated and safety measures can vary greatly from state to state. While they may be fun and desirable, it's important to be aware of these challenges and the potential safety concerns associated with stretch limousines.

    • Stretch limousines: A safety concern despite their luxurious appearanceStretch limousines are outdated, unsafe, and underpowered vehicles with compromised safety features and lax enforcement, making them a risk for passengers.

      Stretch limousines are underpowered, used vehicles with compromised safety features, difficult to maintain, and largely unregulated. These limousines, which are often used for prestige and important events, have a compromised frame, inadequate safety systems, and are subject to lax enforcement due to their classification as cars rather than buses. Despite their appearance and association with luxury, they are in fact a safety risk and have become less popular as alternatives like Uber and regular sedans offer similar levels of prestige with greater safety. Historically, cars were less safe and accidents were more survivable due to the lack of safety features, but modern vehicles have made significant strides in survivability. However, these advancements do not apply to stretch limousines, which remain a safety concern.

    • Limousine Company Cut Corners on Safety StandardsPrestige Limousine disregarded federal safety guidelines, operated poorly maintained vehicles, and evaded citations, putting passengers at risk.

      The limousine service Prestige Limousine, which operated in bad condition vehicles, including a 2001 Ford Excursion, cut corners in modifying and certifying the vehicles, disregarding federal safety standards and guidelines. The owner, Shahid Hussein, had a questionable past and the fleet was reportedly in poor condition, with aggressive drivers and shabby vehicles. Despite these issues, the company managed to evade citations and continued to operate, selling used and modified vehicles to different limousine services. The 2001 Ford Excursion, which had undergone "bus affirmation surgery" to add 144 inches, was particularly notorious for its poor condition, with customers reporting holes in the floor and other issues. The company did not comply with the necessary safety certifications and engineering analysis, leading to potentially dangerous conditions for passengers.

    • Lack of enforcement leads to disregard for regulationsThe decline in public services and enforcement capacity can create opportunities for individuals and businesses to ignore regulations with minimal consequences, potentially leading to dangerous situations.

      The lack of enforcement and oversight can lead to disregard for regulations, as seen in the case of Prestige Limousine. The company was able to operate a dangerously stretched and overweight vehicle with more seats than allowed, by falsifying the registration and taking advantage of the permissive inspection process for standard passenger vehicles. This case highlights how the decline in public services and enforcement capacity can create opportunities for individuals and businesses to ignore regulations with minimal consequences. It's a cautionary tale of the potential dangers that can arise when regulations are not enforced effectively.

    • Ignoring Regulations Can Lead to Serious ConsequencesIgnoring regulations can result in fines and more serious consequences, including safety risks for passengers.

      The limousine company, Prestige, continued to operate a vehicle that was technically a bus despite being denied permits and having numerous safety violations. They were fined multiple times, but ignored the emails and continued to transport passengers. The situation came to a head when the vehicle was spotted in service with a falsified license plate, leading to a more serious response from law enforcement. This incident highlights the importance of following regulations and the potential consequences of ignoring them. It also underscores the importance of safety, especially when transporting passengers.

    • Ignoring regulations can lead to severe consequencesAdhere to regulations and maintain vehicle safety to prevent accidents and potential legal repercussions

      Non-compliance with regulations can lead to serious consequences, even for businesses that continue to operate despite violations. In this case, Prestige Limousine disregarded multiple notices and hearings, ultimately leading to a fatal accident involving a rented vehicle with known issues. The incident underscores the importance of adhering to regulations and maintaining the safety of vehicles, especially those used for transportation services. Additionally, the story highlights the potential risks associated with last-minute changes, as the party bus company canceled at the last minute, leading the group to rent the problematic limousine. This unfortunate incident serves as a reminder for individuals and businesses to prioritize safety and compliance, even in the face of inconvenience or financial considerations.

    • Limousine accident caused by malfunctioning brakes and lack of seat beltsUnregulated non-fleet vehicles with potential technological failures can lead to catastrophic consequences, causing harm to passengers and pedestrians. Regulations and safety technologies are crucial to prevent such incidents.

      The lack of regulation and potential technological failures in non-fleet vehicles, like a limousine, can lead to catastrophic consequences. The incident discussed involved a limousine with malfunctioning brakes that traveled over 100 miles per hour down a steep hill, resulting in the deaths of all passengers in the limo and two pedestrians. The lack of seat belts for the passengers significantly worsened the outcome. The driver's inability to control the vehicle due to its size and the steep terrain further compounded the issue. Theories suggest that the GPS may have led the driver onto the dangerous road, but the exact cause remains unclear. This tragic event serves as a reminder of the importance of vehicle safety regulations and technology, especially for larger vehicles that can cause significant harm if not operated properly.

    • Limousine crash caused by negligence and vehicle safety issuesA tragic limousine crash resulted in the deaths of all passengers due to a combination of a company's failure to maintain vehicle safety and a driver's negligence, highlighting the need for accountability and oversight in the limousine industry.

      The 2018 limousine crash was a tragic event caused by a combination of negligence and failure to maintain vehicle safety. The limousine company, Prestige Limousine, continued to operate a vehicle that was deemed unsafe by the state despite known issues with the brakes. The driver, who failed his NYPD exam and had marijuana in his system, was also a contributing factor to the crash. The investigation was complicated by jurisdictional conflicts and attempts to cover up the cause of the accident. The crash resulted in the deaths of all passengers inside and severely injured two people who were pulled from the wreckage. The incident also raised concerns about accountability and oversight in the limousine industry.

    • Unregulated stretch limousine industry leads to safety concernsThe absence of national safety regulations in the stretch limousine industry resulted in numerous safety issues, including defective brakes, missing emergency exits, and improperly installed seat belts, leading to public awareness of the risks

      The stretch limousine industry was largely unregulated, leading to numerous safety issues, including defective brakes, missing emergency exits, and improperly installed seat belts. The NTSB's investigation into a fatal limousine crash uncovered these issues not only in the vehicle in question but across the industry. Governor Cuomo attempted to ban stretch limos in New York due to these concerns, but only managed to implement stricter regulations within the state. The lack of national safety regulations allowed these dangerous vehicles to remain on the roads, ultimately leading the public to become aware of the risks.

    • Significant decline in limousine industry due to lack of guidelines and new safety regulationsThe limousine industry's decline underscores the importance of regulations for safety and survival.

      The limousine industry experienced a significant decline due to a lack of guidelines from automakers and the implementation of new safety regulations. This, coupled with the ongoing litigation from the tragic limousine crash, led to the industry's implosion. The result is a near-absence of new stretch limousines being constructed. While this may have been a negative outcome for the industry, it serves as a reminder that regulations are necessary to ensure safety and survival. It's important to note that this discussion also touched upon the legal consequences for those involved in the limousine company, including the owner who fled charges and his son who was sentenced for criminally negligent homicide. The ongoing litigation and the negative experiences shared in the conversation further highlight the severity of the situation.

    • Inmate's Experience Working on Trash Detail at Miami Level One PrisonInmates in low-security prisons face challenges and dangers, particularly those who struggle to follow rules and social norms.

      The prison system assigns jobs based on sentence length and inmates' qualifications. The speaker shares his experience working on the grounds crew, specifically the trash detail, at Miami level one in Indiana. He describes the job as picking up trash from inside the fence of level three and four prisons and throwing it in the compactor. The speaker also mentions the corruption and mistreatment by the correctional officer, Walker, who forced inmates to do extra labor. This day, the speaker and another inmate, Perez, were assigned to pick up trash in the dorm due to understaffing. Perez was an absolute idiot who didn't understand prison politics and almost got beaten up frequently. The speaker emphasizes that level one prisons are typically for inmates with low-level felonies or those who have leveled down from higher levels, and the majority of them want to do their time and go home. However, Perez's inability to follow instructions and understand social norms made him stand out and put him in danger. The speaker also mentions the unusual circumstances of understaffing that day, which led to a lack of opportunities for inmates to get desired jobs. Overall, the experience highlights the challenges and dangers faced by inmates in the prison system, particularly those who don't fit in or are unable to follow rules and norms.

    • Disposing of large items in a prisonDisposing of large items in a prison requires careful coordination and can be dangerous, with volunteers handling tasks and correction officers watching closely.

      Disposing of large items in a prison involves dangerous tasks and requires careful coordination. The speakers describe their experience of disposing of an old air conditioning unit and a broken cabinet by hand, using a forklift to load and dispose of the parts. However, the process was not smooth as the forklift driver, Perez, made several mistakes, nearly causing accidents. The speakers also mention that they were volunteering for these tasks and were watched by correction officers. The overall experience was dangerous and time-consuming, highlighting the challenges of living and working in a prison environment.

    • Planning an episode that could get us all killedThe podcast, known for its dark themes, is planning an episode that could potentially harm its creators, adding to its surreal and morbid tone.

      The podcast, which is known for its dark and often disturbing themes, is planning to release an episode that will "get us all killed." This is part of the reason for the release schedule, and the creators jokingly ask listeners to continue donating to their Patreon even after they are all killed. An unexpected twist from the limousine crash incident was that the victims' families received refunds for their fares the day after the crash. This gesture was seen as a charitable act, but it also added to the surreal and dark tone of the conversation. Overall, the podcast's dark humor and morbid subject matter continue to intrigue and challenge its audience.

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