Hertz car rental return sign

Raechel and Jacqueline Houck poseBowing to pressure from consumers and advocacy groups, major car rental companies have agreed to end the practice of renting cars that have been recalled for safety problems.

Legislators are introducing a bill to the Senate that would keep recalled rental cars off the road. The bill has the backing of all four major rental companies – Enterprise, which owns National and Alamo, Hertz/Advantage, Avis/Budget and Dollar/Thrifty, according to a statement released by Sen. Barbara Boxer. Those companies comprise 93 percent of the rental car market, and Hertz was the only one of the four major car rental companies to initially pledge not to rent cars under recall.

The bill will be named after Raechel and Jacqueline Houck (above, right), two young California sisters who died in 2004 in a rented Chrysler PT Cruiser that had been previously recalled for problems with the steering column. The steering fluid was prone to leaking, leaving drivers unable to control their vehicles. Enterprise Rental hadn't fixed the problem before renting the car to the Houck sisters.

"I remain very hopeful and optimistic" that the legislation will pass, Cally Houck, Raechel and Jacqueline's mother tells Autoblog. Houck has been pushing for the new legislation for the past few years. "But it's not done yet ... I remain a bit cynical, based on my history lobbying for this issue. But we do have a consensus of all the industry's major players."