Push to ban recalled rental cars renewed

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Lawmakers on Friday renewed a push to ban car rental companies from distributing vehicles that have been recalled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

A measure requiring rental companies to immediately pull recalled cars from their fleets was introduced in both the House and Senate. 

Previous incarnations of the bill have largely languished on Capitol Hill. 

The sponsors of the legislation said Friday that the time is right for lawmakers to address the issue after a series of high-profile recalls that affected U.S. and foreign auto manufacturers last year.   

“Whether they come from the renter’s lot or a dealership, cars under recall should be not be on the road until their defect is repaired,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. “This common sense legislation closes the dangerous loophole and holds rental companies to the same standard as auto dealers.”

“People who rent cars should do so with the confidence that the vehicles they are driving are safe to drive,” Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) added.

The bill bars the rental or sale of cars that are “subject to a safety recall” and authorizes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to investigate and oversee rental car companies’ procedures for safety concerning recalled cars.

The car rental industry initially resisted calls from lawmakers to abide by the legislation before it was passed, but eventually, the major U.S. car rental companies signed on.

Auto manufacturers have opposed previous versions of the measure because they say it will have unintended consequences, such as pushing car rental companies to the front of the repair line when auto models are recalled.

The Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act is named after sisters who were killed in a 2004 crash involving a rental car that had been recalled. Their mother, Carol Houck, said lawmakers should approve the ban to prevent future accidents like the one that killed her daughters.


“It’s been over ten years since my beautiful, precious daughters Raechel and Jacqueline were killed by an unsafe, recalled rental car,” Houck said in a statement. 

“All of the major rental car companies, and many of the smaller ones, have been working on our side to make the federal legislation named after them the law of the land,” she continued. “They have also adopted responsible policies and are grounding recalled cars until they are repaired. It’s time for Congress to act, to protect all families from suffering our devastating loss.”

The bill is being sponsored by Schumer and Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.). A companion measure in the House is sponsored by Capps and Reps. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).

Tags Barbara Boxer Bill Nelson Charles Schumer Claire McCaskill G.K. Butterfield National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Recalled rental cars
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