The new year brought about the introduction of some new legislation that will keep the car rental companies in check and keep you in the safe lane. The bill focuses on the car rental companies and how they deal with the manufacturer (safety) recalls. Currently, when a manufacturer issues a safety recall on a car; it’s up to the car rental companies to decide what to do and in what timeframe to do it. When Toyota had their big recall regarding brake issues, then self-accelerating vehicles a couple years back, the company I worked for grounded over 10,000 Toyotas. They even went so far as to call up customers that were in these vehicles and ask them to come for an exchange. Other car rental companies did not follow suit right away but thought better of it soon after. All the rental companies know the stories ( and lawsuits) of safety recalled rental cars being rented anyway, only to end up with a lawsuit of their own on their hands. Rep. Chuck Schumer out of NY (co-sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer, CA) was the one to introduce the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act. The legislation comes about from two sisters who rented a car in California in 2004. The car they rented was under a safety recall concerning possible steering fluid leaks that could cause a fire. The unthinkable happened and the two sisters died in a car crash. A jury awarded $15M to the parents of the girls. The award is a small side note compared to outcries regarding renting safe vehicles, which started with an online petition of more than 100,000 signatures delivered to the car rental company as organized at https://www.budget.com/.
According to those knowledgeable of the contents of the bill, car rental companies will be required (under law) to ground safety recalled vehicles as soon as possible, but no later than 24 hours after delivery of the safety recall notice. You can see why now it will be even more important to provide the car rental companies with appropriate contact information when you are renting your vehicle.
As car rental companies are the single largest purchaser of new cars in North America, and largest provider of used vehicles as well, it’s a surprise that the industry was overlooked on this topic for so long. Car dealers have been subject to similar legislation for some time. Hertz and Enterprise, the largest of the rental giants had over 184,000 vehicles in the recall last year alone.
The bill is currently supported by Hertz/Dollar/Thrifty, Avis/Budget, and Enterprise/National/Alamo. How can they not, if you think about it. Unlike the fiscal debate, this should be a slam dunk and hopefully voted on and signed into law soon.
Drive carefully, I’ll see you on the road.
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