Rental Car Safety: New Legislation Aims to Prevent Injury and Death

By Michael Pines, Accident & Injury Prevention Expert

The safety of America’s rental car fleet may improve significantly thanks to new legislation that would prevent the renting or sale of any vehicle under a safety recall.

The Senate Committee on Commerce in July passed the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2013 in honor of the two sisters who were killed in a car accident after renting a recalled PT Cruiser from Enterprise in 2004.

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), lead sponsor of the bill, applauded the Senate’s decision to pass the bill.

“Today the Commerce Committee paid tribute to two of my California constituents who lost their lives in a senseless tragedy by passing the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act,” Senator Boxer said. “This bill will protect our families by keeping vehicles under safety recall off our roads, and I will be working hard to ensure its passage by the full Senate.”

The Senator’s office also added that even though Enterprise had received a recall notice for the PT Cruiser and its defective power steering hose prone to catch fire, it did not pull the vehicles from its rental fleet. The defect, in turn, caused the Houcks’ rental car to set itself ablaze before tragically crashing head-on into a semi-truck.

“If this bill had been in effect when my daughters rented that recalled car, they would still be alive today,” said the girls’ mother. “No other parents should have to suffer such a horrific loss because a rental car company hasn’t bothered to get an unsafe recalled car repaired.”


Until the bill becomes law, we can make strides in rental car safety to ensure no further innocent lives are taken. It may prove to be difficult to check for recalls when you rent a vehicle, but a little proactive research along with convention wisdom can help you steer clear of dangers from behind the wheel.

Download the “SaferCar” app.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers the SaferCar recall app to ensure that all drivers stay protected against potentially deadly car malfunctions due to recalls. Do a quick search on your rental vehicle to ensure that it is in the clear.

Look for essential vehicle safety features.

Make sure your car is as safe as possible when it comes to accident avoidance by ensuring it is equipped with anti-lock brakes, side airbags and stability control (especially if you’re traveling in inclement weather).

Familiarize yourself with the vehicle prior to driving

  1. Know the location of its safety features prior to driving: shifter, driving lights, emergency lights, cruise control and windshield wipers. If you feel that visibility is hindered from behind the wheel, don’t risk it. Choose another vehicle. Saving $5 a day isn’t worth it when it comes to your safety and the safety of those around you.

Choose the right size vehicle.

Don’t try to cram an economy car with a family of four with luggage to boot. Again, a few saved dollars isn’t worth the comfort and safety of your family. Plus, when a small car is packed solid, you compromise visibility and increase the risk of injury in the event of a car accident.

About Michael Pines

Michael Pines is a personal injury attorney at the

Law Offices of Michael Pines, APC

in San Diego, California. He is an accident and injury prevention expert, on a campaign to end senseless injury one article at a time. Catch Mike on