While repairing recalled vehicles seems like a logical course of action, not doing so isn’t currently illegal and has been the cause of car accidents in the past. Two California women were killed driving a rental under the effect of recall after the defect caused a fiery crash.
The two were visiting their mother in Ojai from their homes in Santa Cruz in 2004. The women rented a PT Cruiser from Enterprise about a month after Chrysler issued a recall for a power steering fluid leak. The defect was known to cause a fire under the hood and disable steering. That’s exactly what happened for the two women as they returned from their mother’s home.
Last year, California courts ordered Enterprise to pay the family of the deceased women $15 million for their wrongful death due to the company’s negligence. In honor of the women, the Senate bill to force companies to take recalled vehicles off the road is called Raechel and Jacqueline Houcks Safe Rental Car Act of 2012.
Currently, federal law prohibits the sale of defective vehicles like those that were recalled. That law only applies to auto dealers though. Rental car companies that rent or sell off their fleet of vehicles are not held accountable. The bill would close that loophole and require reparations before the cars are rented or sold.
With the four major rental companies behind the bill, 93 percent of the rental market is now supporting the Safe Rental Car Act. These companies volunteered to refrain from putting recalled vehicles in the hands of customers even while the bill is under legislation.
Enterprise apparently had a policy against renting recalled cars, as does Hertz. Representatives say they are supporting the bill as part of a pledge to their customers.
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