Members of Congress are again pushing for tougher laws on the rental of defective rental cars. As we have previously highlighted in this San Diego personal injury blog, there is currently no legislation at the federal level requiring rental car companies to pull recalled vehicles off the road. While companies are prohibited from selling a recalled vehicle, the same does not apply to renting a recalled vehicle.
The Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Rental Car Safety Act of 2012 is sponsored by Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, along with Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. This is the first time such a bill has been introduced in the House. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate last year, but failed to pass.
Like prior legislative efforts, the bill is named after two young women who died in a 2004 California car accident involving an Enterprise rental car. A month before Enterprise Rent-a-Car rented a PT Cruiser to Raechel Houck, 24, and her sister Jacqueline, 20, the rental agency was informed of a serious safety defect—power steering fluid could leak and ignite under the hood. Because Enterprise failed to remove the vehicle from its fleet of rental cars, the two sisters later died in a fiery crash.
“If a recall notice has been issued for a rented car, that car should be taken off the road until it’s fixed – it’s that simple," said Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, who introduced the bill with Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y.,, and Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. “Passing this straightforward bill will protect the public’s safety and ensure that what happened to Raechel and Jacquie Houck will never happen again."