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CU supports CA bill to improve rental car safety

March 23, 2011

Consumer Union Endorses California Bill to Protect Consumers From Unsafe Rental Cars

AB 753 Bars Rental Car Companies From Renting Vehicles Subject to Federal Safety Recalls

SACRAMENTO, CA – Rental car companies would be prohibited from renting autos that have been recalled due to safety issues under legislation now being considered in the California Assembly. AB 753 was introduced by Assemblymember William Monning and has been endorsed by Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports.
“Every day consumers rent cars with the expectation that the vehicles have been fully inspected for safety,” said Elisa Odabashian, director of Consumers Union’s west coast office. “It’s unconscionable that some rental car companies do not ensure the safety of their customers and knowingly put individuals and families at potentially lethal risk by renting cars subject to safety recalls. If consumers knew some rental car companies were playing Russian roulette with their lives, they might think twice about renting a car in the future.”
Existing law already prohibits car dealers from selling new cars that are under safety recalls. But rental car companies are allowed to rent such vehicles. Cars are subject to federal recalls if they pose an “unreasonable risk” to the public or if they fail to abide by federal standards. AB 753 would bar rental car companies from renting recalled cars until the vehicle has been fixed.
AB 753 was introduced following the tragic deaths of Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, two sisters who were killed while driving a recalled PT Cruiser rented from Enterprise. The vehicle had been recalled one month before the incident because of a defective steering component that made it prone to catching on fire. Nonetheless, Enterprise rented out the vehicle to three customers before renting it to the Houck sisters when the fatal accident occurred.
Michael McCauley – 415-431-6747, ext 126, mccami@consumer.org