Under a new law that took effect on Wednesday, rental car companies are prohibited from using vehicles that have been recalled by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). According to a Detroit News report, the new law mandates rental car companies with fleets of more than 35 vehicles to pull recalled vehicles from their distribution cycle until they are repaired. This prohibition was part of the $305 billion highway bill approved by Congress last year.
The bill was named after Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, sisters who were both tragically killed in a 2004 California crash that involved a rental car that has been recalled, but not repaired. Their mother, Cally Houck, lobbied Congress for years to get this law passed. The law came too late for some like 26-year-old Jewel Brangman who died in a 2014 crash while she was driving a rented 2001 Honda Civic that had been recalled. The ban, however, does not apply to the used-car dealership in spite of a push from safety advocates to also apply the prohibition to them.
Much Needed Legislation
Even though Cally Houck had to lobby for 12 years to get this law passed, it comes during a very important year when the U.S. is faced with an unprecedented number of vehicle recalls. Just in 2015, 51 million vehicles were recalled. This year, that number is likely to be exceeded because of the Takata airbag recall that is taking more vehicles off the road than are being sold.
When these vehicles are put back on our roads without the necessary repairs, millions of people are being placed in grave danger. It is worrisome that this law doesn’t apply to used-car dealerships. It’s certainly a dangerous safety gap, which much be closed given the current climate of safety recalls. Currently, there are more than 900 active auto recalls.
Auto Product Liability Issues
If you are about to purchase a used car, it would be in your best interest to ensure that it is not on a safety recall list. You can check this by visiting NHTSA’s website, safercar.gov. If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a defective auto, please contact an experienced auto product liability attorney to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights. You may be eligible to receive compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, pain and suffering and emotional distress.