Thanks to a newly passed amendment in the transportation renewal bill from the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, those who frequently drive rental cars can feel more secure behind the wheel. Senator Claire McCaskill inserted the change to force rental companies to perform recalls on their vehicles before they can go to consumers. According to Bloomberg, an earlier proposal would have allowed these faulty vehicles to remain in service, as long as customers were warned.

"When consumers and families drive a rental car off the lot, they should be able to do so with the confidence that car is safe to drive, and we're one step closer to that peace of mind today," Senator McCaskill said in a statement after her amendment was accepted and the bill passed 13 to 11. She also asserted that General Motors, Honda, and some rental companies supported her change in the legislation.

There has been continued controversy for years regarding how rental car companies handled pending recalls on their vehicles. In 2011, the firms asked for a two-tier system to prioritize the most dangerous campaigns. More recently, some businesses fought against an act to force the firms to park recalled models until they were repaired. That attitude has shifted, though. According to Bloomberg, the American Car Rental Association, a trade group representing the industry, called the earlier plan only to warn customers a "significant step back in consumer protection."

The Senate committee also accepted two other amendments concerning auto safety. One increased funding for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration after successful reforms to the agency. The other doubled penalties for safety violations from automakers to $14,000 per incident and a cap of $70 million.
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Rental Car Safety—McCaskill Plan Clears Key Hurdle

Senator's amendment to transportation bill improves rental car safety, ensure recalled cars stay off the road

Thursday, July 16, 2015

WASHINGTON – A plan by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill to improve rental car safety by ensuring recalled vehicles are grounded by rental car companies was approved unanimously today by a key Senate panel and now heads to the full Senate as part of the long-term transportation renewal bill.

McCaskill, along with Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, introduced the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act which requires that rental cars subject to an open safety recall be grounded and repaired before they are rented to consumers—eliminating loopholes that have allowed companies to keep defective cars on the road and keep consumers at risk.

"When consumers and families drive a rental car off the lot, they should be able to do so with the confidence that car is safe to drive, and we're one step closer to that peace of mind today," said McCaskill, former Chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection. "Companies like Honda and GM, as well as the rental car industry and consumer and safety advocates have all rallied support of our commonsense plan that would ensure any rental cars subject to recall are grounded, and that companies violating that law are held accountable."

This spring, McCaskill released an analysis she requested from the nation's top auto safety agency on the auto industry's alternative proposal to her rental car safety bill. The analysis found the auto industry's proposal "is not a serious, comprehensive approach to redress the problem of defective rental vehicles on our nation's roads and highways."

At a hearing last year, McCaskill pressed the Auto Alliance's vice president for safety to end the industry's opposition to rental car safety legislation or submit its own recommended language if the group could not find a way to support the bill. McCaskill then wrote to the auto safety agency requesting their analysis of the proposal.

McCaskill held two hearings last year on the General Motors recall of 2.6 million vehicles for defective ignition switches that have been linked to a number of deaths, as well as an auto safety oversight hearing, and a hearing on rental car safety.

Visit mccaskill.senate.gov/consumers to learn more about McCaskill's fight to protect consumers

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