After years of defiant posturing – and after unnecessary deaths – the four largest rental car companies have finally pledged to not rent any vehicles subject to a manufacturer safety recall and to support legislation that would but legal teeth behind their promise.
Most car renters never knew it, but until recently, every single rental car company had policies that allowed the company to rent defective vehicles to unknowing customers – even if the vehicle was subject to a safety recall. And there wasn't any law on the books to keep the companies from doing it. A 2011 NHTSA study showed that Enterprise repaired only 65% of recalled vehicles within 90 days. Avis/Budget repaired only 53% of recalled vehicles within 90 days. Hertz was even worse, with only 34% of recalled vehicles repaired within 90 days.
Hertz was the first rental car company to side with Consumers for Auto Reliability in supporting legislation to prohibit companies from renting defective recalled vehicle to unsuspecting customers. Now, finally, Enterprise (and its associated brands National and Alamo) and Avis / Budget have joined Hertz (and Advantage) in pledging to support legislation formally banning the practice of renting defective and recalled vehicles.
A NHTSA study last year showed that Enterprise repaired only 65% of recalled vehicles within 90 days. Avis/Budget repaired only 53% of recalled vehicles within 90 days. Hertz was even worse, with only 34% of recalled vehicles repaired within 90 days.
This push for increased rental car safety comes after the tragic deaths of sisters Rachel and Jacquie Houck. The Houck sisters were killed when the defective PT Cruiser that Enterprise Rental Car had given them as an "upgrade" caught fire while driving on Highway 101 in California. Despite knowing the vehicle was recalled, Enterprise fought the girls' parents in court for five years, going so far as to try and blame the girls and saying the girls were "suicidal or on drugs." A jury ultimated awarded the girls' family $15 million, but Enterprise continued the practice of renting defective and recalled vehicles to customers.
It's time for Congress to act in passing this legislation. Now that the rental car companies are on board, there is nothing left to slow the process.
(c) Copyright Brett A. Emison
Follow @BrettEmison on Twitter.
Brett Emison is currently a partner at Langdon & Emison, a firm dedicated to helping injured victims across the country from their primary office near Kansas City. Mainly focusing on catastrophic injury and death cases as well as complex mass tort and dangerous drug cases, Mr. Emison often deals with automotive defects, automobile crashes, railroad crossing accidents (train accidents), trucking accidents, dangerous and defective drugs, defective medical devices.