In Illinois and throughout the rest of the nation, rental car companies are prohibited from selling or leasing vehicles that have been connected to a recall notice. However, companies can rent any car in their fleet regardless of whether or not it has been subject to a recall notice for defective parts or even life-threatening errors. Car accident attorneys know that this does not relive these companies of liability for the accidents their defective vehicles may cause. Members of the U.S. Senate have proposed a bill that would close this loophole and prohibit car companies from keeping defective car rentals in their fleets. Proponents believe that this has great potential to keep unsafe vehicles off the nation’s roads.
Origins of the bill
According to CNN, The Rachel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2013, otherwise known as S. 921, received its name due to the tragic deaths of two sisters. The young women, who were 20 and 24 at the time, rented a car from a major rental car company to allow them to travel home for a visit with their parents. The rental car company did not disclose that the car they were given had been included in a recall notice 30 days before, but had yet to be fixed. As the women traveled, a defect in their power steering hose caused the vehicle to catch on fire and they crashed into an oncoming semi. Authorities believe the women died upon impact due to the severity of the fatal accident.
Details of the potential law
The provisions of the bill require any rental car companies or auto dealers who have rental and loaning programs to remove defective rental cars from their fleets until they are properly fixed. After a recall notice is received, the companies have 24 hours to comply with the law. Those who have a fleet with 5,000 or more vehicles that are affected by the recall would have an additional 24 hours in which to comply. Companies would be able to make temporary repairs to the vehicles only in cases where the recall includes the exact repairs and the temporary actions completely eliminate the safety risk at issue. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would be tasked with investigation, policing and ensuring compliance with the law.
Significant potential for accidents
In response to the proposed law, the NHTSA performed a survey on the issue and found that car companies have been guilty of renting tens of thousands of defective vehicles since 2006, most without any notice to the drivers. The survey also found that even the best performing company only had a 65 percent repair rate on their recalled cars and trucks after 90 days. The worst performer had only managed to have 34 percent of their recalled vehicles repaired within the 90 day period.