Senator Claire McCaskill (D – Missouri) inserted an amendment into the 2015 transportation renewal bill from the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee which will now force rental companies to perform recalls on their vehicles before they can be rented to consumers. An earlier proposal would have allowed recalled vehicles to remain on the road, with the companies only being required to warn their customers that there could be a recall on the vehicle. This caused many consumer groups to be concerned about rental car safety.
In a major reversal, consumers who use rental cars are now assured that those vehicles are up-to-date on any recalls. (https://twitter.com/HarrisPennLowry/status/623123676792258560)
“When consumers and families drive a rental car off the lot, they should be able to do so with the confidence that car is safe to drive, and we’re one step closer to that peace of mind today,” Senator McCaskill said in a statement. The amendment was passed in committee by a vote of 13 to 11.
The new transportation bill containing the amendment took effect on June 1, 2016.
Most large rental car companies, as well as auto manufacturers such as General Motors and Honda supported the amendment. In the past, several rental car companies had opposed being forced to make the repairs, although they have become more supportive of the idea in recent months according to AutoBlog. In fact, several major rental car companies, including Enterprise, Hertz, Avis and Budget, began complying with the law months before it took effect.
The law only applies to cars that will be rented to consumers. The companies continue to be allowed to sell their used cars without the recall requirements. However, if the autos are kept up-to-date with recalls while they are being rented out, it is far less likely that very many will be sold while in need of repairs that were required by a recall.
Two other financial requirements were added to the bill to make auto transportation safer for the public. The first one increased funding for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The second one doubled the penalties for safety violations that could be assessed to automakers to $14,000 per incident, with a cap of $70 million.
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