A years-long effort by Rep. Lois Capps to levy tighter requirements regarding safety-recall issues on rental car companies and used-car dealers attracted the support of two top transportation officials on Friday. Anthony Foxx, the federal Transportation Secretary, and Mark Rosekind, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, echoed Capps in prodding Congress to pass a law like the one she introduced in 2012.
The bill would require rental car companies and used-car dealers to fix issues related to safety recalls before allowing people to rent or purchase those vehicles. Existing regulations only require that new cars be fixed before sale.
Capps’s support for such legislation stems from a 2004 crash that killed two sisters, who were 20 and 24 years old at the time. Raechel and Jacqueline Houck were driving on the freeway from Ojai in a Chrysler PT Cruiser they had rented from Enterprise. A steering hose defect for that model had spurred a recent recall, but the sisters’ vehicle hadn’t been repaired. While they were driving, they lost steering power and their car caught on fire and hit a semi-truck. The Houck family later learned that Enterprise — who they later successfully sued in civil court for $15 million — had received the recall notice from Chrysler but ignored it.
“No mother should have to go through the tragedy that Cally Houck has endured,” Capps said in a statement. “We need common-sense legislation to prevent tragedies like this from ever occurring again. That’s why I will continue working to protect families and ensure that vehicles rented or sold by rental car companies are safe.”
Foxx, Rosekind, and industry officials also chimed in on Friday. “Every vehicle under an open safety recall should be repaired as soon as possible,” said Foxx. “Requiring rental car agencies and used car dealers to fix defective vehicles before renting is a common-sense solution that would make our roads safer.”