The four largest rental car companies in the country have agreed to requests made by two senators who are pushing for legislation to prevent rental companies from renting or selling defective vehicles that have not yet been repaired. According to a news report in the Los Angeles Times, Senators Barbara Boxer and Charles Schumer announced the agreement Thursday with Hertz, Avis, Enterprise and Dollar Thrifty, the four most popular rental companies in the United States.
The companies have said they will support the law, which will for the first time put them under federal oversight on recalls. The push for this new law came from Cally Houck, the mother of Raechel, 24, and Jacqueline, 20, who were both killed in a fiery crash in 2004 while returning to the Bay Area after visiting their mother in Ojai.
Largest Companies Sign Pledge
The sisters were in a rented Chrysler PT Cruiser just one month after the models had been recalled for a power steering leak problem that could cause a fire under the hood and loss of steering control. The Houcks were awarded $15 million by an Alameda County Superior Court jury. Enterprise was the company involved in that case. The bill proposed by Boxer and Schumer is called the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2012. Although federal law prevents auto dealers from selling recalled vehicles, there is no such law to prevent rental companies from putting defective vehicles in their lot.
The car rental companies have signed a pledge stating that they will make a “permanent commitment” not to rent or sell any recalled vehicles until they have been repaired. Boxer said she would make public the information about which companies did not sign this pledge. The four companies that are part of this agreement together make up 93 percent of the market, the Times reports.
A Law that Promotes Safety and Accountability
There is no question that this legislation has been a long time coming. This new law will not only save lives, but also provide a mechanism to hold rental car companies accountable. My heart goes out to the Houck family that has lost two grown children as a result of a rental car company’s negligence. It is unacceptable for these companies to put profits before people’s lives.
This law will officially make the act of renting or selling vehicles with auto defects illegal, which is just what is needed to prevent senseless incidents such as the one that killed Raechel and Jacqueline Houck. I commend the rental car companies for doing what is right and the senators for forcing the issue and following through. This would not have been possible without the strength and conviction of Cally Houck who did everything she could to make sure that the tragedy and heartbreak her family suffered is not repeated.