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Congress considering defective rental car legislation

Unfortunately, the public does not realize that the vehicles being rented by car rental companies could be the subject of safety recalls for defects.
 
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    February 08, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- As many Texas residents plan their business trips and family vacations, they may consider the option of a rental vehicle in order to avoid putting additional miles and additional wear on the family's vehicle. An additional factor that leads one to consider the use of a rental vehicle is the perception (sometimes mis-perception) that the rental vehicle is well-maintained and thus poses minimal risk of a breakdown. Unfortunately, the public does not realize that the vehicles being rented by car rental companies could be the subject of safety recalls for defects.

A fatal car accident

According to CNBC, Rachel and Jacqueline Houck were killed in 2004 when a defective power steering hose caused their rental car to erupt in fire and crash into a large commercial truck. At the time the Houck sisters rented the car, they had no idea that the vehicle's manufacturer had issued a safety recall to replace the defective hose that caused the fatal fire.

After enduring the tragic deaths of her daughters, Raechel and Jacqueline's mother urged members of Congress to pass legislation to protect the public from defective rental vehicles. ABC News reported that in 2011, major car rental companies were still renting recalled vehicles to the unsuspecting public. A study of major car rental companies disclosed that one major car rental company had fixed only 34 percent of the recalled vehicles in its rental fleet. Another of the major car rental companies was found to have repaired only 53 percent of the defective vehicles in its fleet while a third car rental company had repaired 65 percent of the recalled vehicles in its rental fleet. With this demonstrated disregard for customers' safety, one must ask, "Who is going to protect us from the dangers posed by rental of recalled and unrepaired vehicles?"

Bill aimed at closing legal loophole

Some members of Congress have heeded the call for a solution and have drafted legislation to protect the motoring public. The Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2013 addresses the problem of car rental companies' renting recalled vehicles that have not been repaired. If this proposed legislation ultimately is passed by Congress, rental car companies would be subject to the following safety requirements:
- All cars subject to a safety recall would have to be pulled from rental fleets until the defects are remedied.
- Car rental companies would have only 24 hours to pull recalled vehicles from small rental fleets and 48 hours to pull recalled vehicles large rental fleets.
- The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) would be given statutory authority to fine car rental companies for violations of the new safety rules.
- Car rental companies would be subject to safety inspections by NHTSA.

Supporters of the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act have stressed that passage of the Act is essential because existing laws requiring car dealers to repair recalled vehicles do not impose a similar duty on companies that rent cars. This legal loop-hole has resulted in a double-standard that endangers the lives of the motoring public.

Will Congress pass the bill?

Unfortunately, it is difficult to predict whether this bill will become law because car dealers and automobile manufacturers actively have opposed passage of the bill. Nevertheless, the publicity surrounding the legislation and the public's increasing awareness of the dangers posed by rental of recalled vehicles have caused the major car rental companies to change their policies so that they now voluntarily pull from their rental fleets all unrepaired vehicles that are the subject of safety recalls. Despite this encouraging shift in policy, passage of the legislation is essential because many of the smaller car rental companies continue to rent vehicles that are the subject of safety recalls. Hopefully, Congress will pass this bill in order that the public can be safe-guarded from the rental of defective vehicles.

When defective vehicles are allowed to remain on our roadways, all of us are endangered. If a defective product has caused you or a loved one to sustain serious injury, be sure to discuss your loss with an experienced attorney in order that your rights can be protected.

Article provided by Tinsman & Sciano, Inc.
Visit us at www.tsslawyers.com



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