Wednesday, March 21 , 2018, 11:57 am | Light Rain Fog/Mist 56º


Capps Introduces Bipartisan Rental Car Safety Bill in House

On Friday, Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, and Republican Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina along with Rep. G.K Butterfield of North Carolina and Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois introduced a bipartisan bill, the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Rental Car Safety Bill (H.R. 2198), which would ban rental car companies from renting or selling vehicles subject to a recall.

While current law prohibits car dealerships from selling new vehicles under recall to consumers, no federal law is currently in place to ban rental car companies from doing the same or renting a car under recall to unsuspecting consumers.

The Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act would keep unsafe rental cars that have been recalled off the road.

U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Penn., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Bill Nelson, D-Fla., introduced identical legislation in the Senate (S. 1173).

The legislation is named in honor of sisters Raechel and Jacqueline Houck of Ojai, who were tragically killed while driving a recalled Chrysler PT Cruiser rented from Enterprise in 2004. Roughly one month before the Houck sisters were killed, Enterprise received a recall notice that the PT Cruiser had a defective steering component that was prone to catching fire and that it would be repaired by Chrysler free-of-charge. Despite the warning, Enterprise did not get the vehicle repaired, and rented it out to three other customers before renting it to the Houck sisters. The defect caused the car to catch fire and crash head-on into a tractor-trailer, killing both sisters.

This legislation builds on a similar bill first introduced by Capps in July 2012.

“This straightforward, common-sense bill will protect public safety and help ensure that the tragedy that happened to Raechel and Jacqueline Houck will never happen again,” Capps said. “People who rent cars should do so with the confidence that the vehicles they are driving are safe to drive. I look forward to continuing to work with Cally Houck, consumer groups, rental companies, and my colleagues in the House and Senate to make sure this legislation becomes law and unsafe cars are taken off the road once and for all.”

“It's been over ten years since my beautiful, precious daughters Raechel and Jacqueline were killed by an unsafe, recalled rental car,” Cally Houck said. “All of the major rental car companies, and many of the smaller ones, have been working on our side to make the federal legislation named after them the law of the land. They have also adopted responsible policies and are grounding recalled cars until they are repaired. It's time for Congress to act, to protect ALL families from suffering our devastating loss.”

The legislation is backed by Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union and the Trauma Foundation.

The legislation is supported by all the major car rental companies — Hertz (includes Dollar Thrifty), Enterprise (includes Alamo and National) and Avis Budget (includes Payless) — as well as the American Car Rental Association. Together the companies and ACRA represent virtually 100 percent of the rental car market. The bill also is supported by the Truck Renting and Leasing Association, representing the vast majority of truck renting and leasing operations in the United States, as well as AAA and State Farm.

“The American public is overwhelmingly in favor of ensuring that rental cars are safe and free from lethal safety defects,” said Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety. “About 95 percent of the rental car industry is also in favor. This is a common-sense bill that should be passing unanimously. The president is eager to sign it. It's time for Congress to get off the dime.”

— Chris Meagher is a press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps.

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