A new federal law mandating rental car agencies to fix all vehicles under safety recall in their inventories before renting them to consumers has taken effect.
U.S Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) chief Dr. Mark Rosekind have pushed for regulations requiring rental cars to be safe and free of any open recalls. The bill to require the recall repairs was part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015, which Congress recently passed.
“When a family picks up a rental car on vacation, they should be able to expect it is free of any known safety defect,” said Mr. Foxx. “I thank Congress and the safety advocates who helped turn this common-sense idea into law.”
Under the new law, any rental company with a fleet of 35 or more vehicles is prohibited from renting unrepaired recalled vehicles to customers. The new law also extends NHTSA’s recall authority to cover rental car companies for the first time, giving the regulatory agency power to investigate and punish and companies suspected to be in violation of the law.
The legislation was championed by the family of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, sisters who died in an Enterprise rental vehicle that was under a safety recall but had not been repaired. The Santa Cruz sisters, ages 24 and 20 respectively, were killed in a 2004 crash when a power steering hose defect in a Chrysler PT Cruiser caused an engine fire, causing the car to run out of control and slam head-on into a tractor trailer.
“This law gives NHTSA one more tool to protect the safety of U.S. motorists,” said Dr. Rosekind. “It’s critical that every recalled vehicle, whether new, used, rented or leased, is repaired as soon as possible. Rental agencies operate some of the largest fleets, so this law will go a long way in ensuring the cars and trucks on the road are safe.”
In just 2014, there were nearly 900 automotive recalls affecting more than 51 million vehicles across the U.S. NHTSA says it aims for a 100-percent completion rate for safety recall repairs.