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The Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2015 Would Close Dangerous Loophole that Currently Allows Rental Car Companies to Rent or Sell Recalled Vehicles 

Legislation Has Support of Both Industry and Auto Safety Groups and Was Recently Endorsed by General Motors and DOT Secretary Foxx 

Schumer: This Common Sense Legislation Would Save Lives and Make Our Roads Much Safer


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Charles, E. Schumer (D-NY), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-FL), announced the introduction of the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2015. The bill would, for the first time, hold rental companies to the same standard as auto dealers, who are prohibited from selling a new car under recall unless the defect has been remedied. The legislation, which already has the support of General Motors and all the major rental car companies, the American Car Rental Association, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, and a broad coalition of auto safety and consumer groups, was first introduced in 2013. The bill is named after sisters Raechel and Jacqueline Houck who were killed driving a rental car that had been recalled for a power steering hose defect but had not been repaired. Representatives Lois Capps (D-CA), Walter B. Jones (R-NC), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) also introduced a companion bill today in the House.

“Whether they come from the renter’s lot or a dealership, cars under recall should be not be on the road until their defect is repaired,” said Senator Schumer. “This common sense legislation closes the dangerous loophole and holds rental companies to the same standard as auto dealers.”

“Consumers should know that the cars and trucks they rent are safe to drive,” said Senator Boxer. “It is long past time for us to honor the memory of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck by passing this bill to protect the American people.”

“The millions of Americans who get behind the wheel of a rental car each year have a right to the peace of mind that the car they’re driving is safe,” said Senator McCaskill. “This bill aims to keep dangerous vehicles off the road with the requirement that rental cars subject to a recall must be fixed before they can be rented to a customer.”

“We’ve learned from recent incidents involving airbags made by Takata that people can be seriously injured or even killed if a car has a serious safety defect,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL). “It only makes sense that you shouldn’t be renting out a car that has a safety recall on it.”

“It's been over ten years since my beautiful, precious daughters Raechel and Jacqueline were killed by an unsafe, recalled rental car,” said Carol “Cally” Houck. “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 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% 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.”

Specifically, the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2015:

Prohibits Rental or Sale of Vehicles Subject to a Safety Recall

Vehicles may not be rented or sold until the vehicles are fixed, consistent with existing law for new car dealers, who have been prohibited from selling or leasing recalled vehicles for decades. One exception is allowed for rental companies to sell a damaged vehicle subject to recall for parts or scrap with a junk title.

Requires Rental Companies to Ground Vehicles under a Safety Recall

Vehicles under a safety recall will be grounded as soon as possible but no later than 24 hours after the rental company gets the safety recall notice. Rental companies will have up to 48 hours for recalls that include more than 5,000 vehicles in their fleet.

Permits Rental Companies to Rely on Temporary Measures Identified by Manufacturers

If a manufacturer’s recall notice specifies steps that can be taken to eliminate the safety risk until parts are available, a rental company may continue to rent the vehicle if those measures are put in place but must ground and repair the vehicle once parts become available.

Maintains Status Quo Between Rental Companies and Auto Manufacturers

The bill ensures that auto manufacturers are not subject to new or increased liability as a result of the new requirements the bill imposes on rental companies.

Ensures NHTSA Has Tools Necessary to Protect Consumers

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will have authority to investigate and police rental companies' recall safety practices.

The bill is supported by auto safety and consumer groups, including Carol (Cally) Houck – mother of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Consumer Action, Consumer Federal of America, Consumers Union, National Association of Consumer Advocates, and Trauma Foundation.

The bill also is supported by industry, including 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 (ACRA). 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.