As of June 1, 2016, rental car agencies can no longer rent vehicles to customers if the vehicle has any outstanding recalls. This includes recalls on specific parts as well. These issues must be addressed before the agency can rent it to a consumer.
In 2014 alone, there were roughly 900 vehicle recalls that affected 51 million American motorists. Recalled cars are a serious safety concern for the average driver. Vehicle owners are usually notified of recalls on their vehicle or for component parts via a mass mailing, but how do you know about a recall if you do not own the car? You usually don’t.
Rental cars that are subject to a recall have been a particular concern for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). When consumers pick up a rental vehicle, they assume the vehicle is safe to drive. Rental car drivers usually do not think to check the recall status of the vehicle they are assigned, and rental vehicle companies may be counting on that.
The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015
The new law only affects rental agencies that have more than 35 vehicles, but that is still the vast majority of rental car agencies or companies. This is also a huge change because it allows the NHTSA’s recall authority to extend to rental car companies for the first time ever. That also means that NHTSA’s powers to investigate and punish also covers rental car companies as well.
Tragic Inspiration for Change
The family of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck had a hand in the passing of this law. These sisters were killed in a car accident that involved a rental car in 2004. The vehicle was being recalled because of a potential leak in the power steering hose, which could result in a fire. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to these young women. They lost the ability to steer and then the vehicle burst into flames after it hit another vehicle. Their family sued for wrongful death shortly thereafter.
This new law is one step closer to nation-wide compliance with recalls. Recalled vehicles cause thousands of injuries and death across the United States. If you or your family has been tragically affected by a vehicle recall, you have legal options. Contact a personal injury attorney from Simien & Simien today for more information and to schedule a free case evaluation.
Call (800) 374-8422.