Senator Boxer challenges rental car companies to take safety pledge

California’s U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer has issued a challenge to the 4 major rental car companies to pledge not to rent or sell vehicles that are being recalled due to safety defects.

Hertz immediately responded and took the pledge. But its competitors — Enterprise-National-Alamo, Avis-Budget, and Dollar-Thrifty so far have failed to take the pledge. Hertz is the #2 rental car company in the nation, in terms of its share of the rental car market.

Earlier this year, CARS announced that we reached a historic agreement with Hertz, which split from its competitors and agreed to support federal legislation, named for Raechel and Jacqueline Houck, two sisters, ages 24 and 20, who were killed by an Enterprise rental car that was under a safety recall.

Enterprise received the recall notice from Chrysler about 30 days before renting the killer car to Raechel and Jacquie, but didn’t bother taking it to a dealership to get it fixed, before renting it to them.

Instead of taking the pledge, Enterprise, Avis, and Dollar complained they are being treated unfairly, since individual consumers are not required to ground recalled cars until they are fixed. They just don’t get it — no one should have to worry about a rental car company deliberately renting them an unsafe car.

Sen. Boxer’s safety pledge simply says:

“Effective immediately, our company is making a permanent commitment to not rent out or sell any vehicles under safety recall until the defect has been remedied.”

Enterprise told the St.Louis Post-Dispatch that it insists on being able to pick and choose whether to ground recalled cars, or not. A spokesperson for Enterprise raised the example of a car with a seat belt chime that doesn’t work, as the type of defect Enterprise thinks is safe enough to keep renting to consumers.

However, according to Robert Vinetz, MD, FAAP, of Los Angeles, a leading pediatrician who is well-known for his work to improve safety for infants and children, such a defect endangers kids. Many parents rely on the chimes to alert them if a child is not buckled up, or if their buckle has become unfastened. Without the warning chime, a parent may not realize their child is unsecured — with disastrous results.

Instead of being an example of why rental car companies should be allowed to second-guess auto manufacturers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Enterprise’s example is a classic argument for why they should be required to ground recalled cars until they are fixed. Period.

Read more — St Louis Post-Dispatch report: