STATE SENATE | Ellen Corbett is continuing her attempts to crack down on the state’s charter-party limousine industry following findings this week the tragic limo fire on the San Mateo Bridge earlier this year was ruled an accident.

On Wednesday, an audit of the charter-party carriers limo industry sought by State Sen. Corbett was approved. The Joint Legislative Audit Committee plans to investigate how fees from limo carriers are spent by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC); whether rules are being abided by and how readily the commission is enforcing existing safety regulations. The CPUC grants limousine providers state licenses. It is also charged with conducting investigations and vehicle inspections.

Corbett’s call to dig deeper into the charter-party limo industry, follows the fiery death of five woman in a limo travelling last May on the San Mateo Bridge. The CPUC ruled the fire that emanated from a faulty driveshaft caused the accident. However, reports of the incident highlighted by the desperate attempts of the passengers to easily exit the burning limo, was the impetus for a bill offered by Corbett in June calling for limos to install additional rear exit doors and push out windows.

“The untimely deaths of five young women on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge in May has forced all of us to recognize the importance of enhancing limo safety requirements in California in order to ensure that passengers remain safe,” Corbett said in a statement. “This audit will delve into the CPUC’s financial account that funds the oversight and regulation of limousines in our state. We want to ensure that every dollar collected for limo safety in California is indeed going toward that end.”

Corbett has used the power of a state audit in the past with a degree of success. In 2012, she directed another state audit to investigate whether non-profit hospital providers pay in community benefits is commensurate with the millions in tax breaks they receive from the state. The audit found no uniform accounting mechanism for non-profit hospital to provide for charity care.