Regulators target rental car safety standards

Enterprise Rent-a-Car company has recently changed course and is now supporting legislative efforts to increase oversight on rental cars. The issue came in to focus several years ago, when a PT Cruiser owned by the company caught fire in a crash. The car had been subject to a recall but Enterprise had not fixed the problem.

A jury awarded the family of the two women that died in the PT Cruiser accident $15 million, and their mother has become an outspoken safety advocate. Enterprise told reporters last month that they have come a long way since the 2004 accident and that their vehicles are now in better condition.

The car accident was caused by a faulty power steering hose that leaked. The car had been rented several other times after the recall.

New legislation has been introduced to Congress that would give the National Highway Safety Administration authority over rental car companies.

The new measures bring to light a safety issue that many consumers were not aware of. Without effective authority over rental car companies, the government has been unable to enforce recall measures and other safety requirements as they would in other sectors of the transportation industry. This has put drivers at risk by allowing unsafe vehicles to stay on the road. If the car was subject to a recall and the company failed to fix the problem, as in the above case, the company may have been negligent. People who have been injured by unsafe rental cars may be able to recover from the company.

Source: Boston Globe, "Enterprise changes course, backs recall oversight," Feb. 24, 2012.

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