Safe Rental Car Act Passes as Part of Highway Bill

The Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act was included in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (H.R. 22), which President Obama signed into law on Friday Dec. 4.

The Safe Rental Car Act requires car rental companies to ground vehicles in their fleets with open federal safety recalls and to repair or address these recalls prior to renting or selling the car. Rental fleets with 35 or fewer cars will be exempt from this bill.

Transportation leaders on Capitol Hill hailed the FAST Act as “a fully funded five-year plan for surface transportation reauthorization.” The Act featured several sections including public transportation, federal-aid highways, highway traffic safety and motor vehicle safety. The motor vehicle safety section included rental car safety (Sec. 24109) and dealer requirement to check for open recall or Williams Amendment (Sec. 24107).

In the bill’s rental car safety section , a covered rental vehicle means a motor vehicle that has a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less; is rented without a driver for an initial term of less than four months; and is part of a motor vehicle fleet of 35 or more motor vehicles that are used for rental purposes by a rental company, according to the H.R. 22 Conference Report.

Once the manufacturer provides a rental company notification about a covered rental vehicle in the company’s possession, a rental company needs to comply with the limitations on sale, lease or rental as soon as practicable — but not later than 24 hours after the earliest receipt of the notice, according to the conference report.

If a rental company receives a recall notice covering more than 5,000 vehicles in its fleet, the rental company needs to comply with the limitations on sale, lease or rental as soon as practicable — but not later than 48 hours after the earliest receipt of the notice, says the conference report.

The conference report states that an “open recall” means a recall for which a notification by a manufacturer has been provided under section 30119 and that has not been remedied under this section.

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