Car Hire, Politics|

Bill Introduced to Ban Recalled Rentals

Raechel and Jacqueline HouckA new bill has been introduced to the US House of Representatives that will keep car hire companies from renting out vehicles that have been recalled due to safety risks. The Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2012 has been named after the two young women who died in an Enterprise Rent-A-Car vehicle that had been under recall. The act will require that rental firms ground recalled vehicles until they have been repaired.

The introduction of this bill comes after Cally Houck, the young womens’ mother, began to push for changes to regulations after her 20-year-old and 24-year-old daughters were killed in 2004. The sisters were driving a rented Chrysler PT Cruiser from Enterprise, the nation’s largest hire provider, when it started to leak steering fluid, caught fire and crashed into an oncoming lorry. The Cruiser had been under recall for the potential fire hazard, but the car hire company rented it to them anyway. The family sued Enterprise, which admitted to negligence after a lengthy legal battle and was ordered to pay US$15 million in damages.

Then last year, California Senator Barbara Boxer and New York Senator Chuck Schumer introduced an earlier version of the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2012 in the Senate. Mrs Houck launched a petition on Change.org in February, calling on Enterprise Rent-A-Car to drop its opposition to join the bill. She got more than 100,000 signatures from people, and the company changed its stance within days to announce it would support the new law.

However, Boxer and Houck announced last month that three of the four major car hire firms in the country had declined to sign a pledge that promised not to rent out or sell cars under recall until they are fixed. The senator said that Hertz was the only major provider that had agreed to the vow, but Avis Budget, Dollar Thrifty and Enterprise hadn’t. She called on American families to demand that the companies sign the pledge. Houck added that the legislation is necessary since the industry can’t be relied on to do the right thing.

Avis Budget, Dollar Thrifty and Enterprise still maintained that they support federal law to ensure cars under recall are safe again before they are rented out or sold. However, they believe that any regulations should also cover other transport businesses – like taxi and limousine firms. Their representatives also said that they address safety recalls in a timely fashion.

California Representative Lois Capps helped introduce the bill with Illinois Representative Jan Schakowsky and New York Representative Eliot Engel. Capps says that, if a recall notice is issued for a rental car, the vehicle should be taken off the road until it’s fixed. Passing this bill will protect the safety of the public and ensure the Houck tragedy doesn’t happen again, she added.

Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (C.A.R.S.) founder and president Rosemary Shahan says that the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2012 is the same as the agreement reached between the group and Hertz earlier this year. This is the first time a bill like this has been introduced to the House of Representatives. She has called it a major step forward in executing federal legislation that prohibits the rental and sale of cars under recall due to safety issues. She also applauds Mrs Houck for her work on the matter, adding that this bill will save lives.

 

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