McCaskill Urges Automakers, Dealers to Support Rental Car Safety Bill with Release of Safety Analysis

Senator releases safety agency’s analysis finding auto industry counterproposal ‘would not adequately protect rental consumers and the driving public in the event of a recall’

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill today released an analysis she requested from the nation’s top auto safety agency on the auto industry’s alternative proposal to the rental car safety bill she introduced this week with seven Senate colleagues. 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.”

“After the record number of high profile recalls last year, customers are rightly concerned about the safety of the car they’re driving,” said McCaskill, the former Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection. “The auto industry’s proposal is riddled with loopholes that keep defective rental cars on the road and put consumers at risk indefinitely, rather than giving companies an incentive to have recalled cars repaired quickly. It’s time for automakers and dealers to support this commonsense safety measure or come to the table with workable solutions that address their concerns.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) analyzed language suggested by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers as an alternative to 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. The bill has the support of the rental car industry, auto safety groups, and General Motors. The Alliance’s counterproposal would allow rental car companies to rent cars with unrepaired recalls to consumers as long as the consumer is notified of the recall, and would only require cars be grounded until repaired if the automaker has issued a rare “do not drive” warning with the recall.

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 wrote to NHTSA in October requesting the safety agency’s views and 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. 

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