“Nothing gets done in Washington.” Unfortunately, that’s become the conventional wisdom in the face of a growing sense that the art of constructive legislative compromise is all but dead.

But as we move through this election season, we just had a most encouraging example of how people with differing viewpoints can get beyond those differences and arrive at legislative solutions that advance the public good. We’re talking about the recent compromise agreement struck between the rental car industry and consumer groups on legislation governing rental vehicles subject to a manufacturer’s recall.

This landmark bill — and the coalition that came together behind it — showed that important things can get done in Washington through hard work and honest communication. Our industry can be proud to have played a role in that process. The goal is to have the legislation introduced when Congress returns to work after the November elections.

This proposed legislation is the result of a great deal of thoughtful industry collaboration by the American Car Rental Association (ACRA), and all the major car rental players: Enterprise Holdings, Avis Budget Group, Hertz Corp. and Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group. We arrived at a solution that will give our customers what they’ve asked for: Increased confidence that the car they rent is properly maintained and safe to drive. This is a principle we all want to deliver, but converting internal policies into legislation is no easy task. After all, ACRA members were already committed to not renting cars under recall.

Therefore, there were significant practical considerations that had to be worked through, including the time needed to review recall notices, identify affected vehicles, and alert all branch offices and employees. We needed lawmakers to take such operational realities into account. We had legitimate concerns and needed to have a place at the table in the development of legislation that would have significant impact on those operations.

To that end, ACRA and a number of our member companies worked for many months with other stakeholders, including Sens. Charles Schumer, Barbara Boxer, Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt, as well as Reps. Leonard Lance, G.K. Butterfield, John Barrow and Lois Capps, the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS) and Carol Houck, whose daughters were tragically killed in 2004 in an accident involving a recalled rental car.

When all parties sat down at the table together, we were able to work out our differences and develop a legislative solution that standardizes our existing safeguards and gives us a uniform, industry-wide approach to addressing recalled vehicles.

The legislation we’re supporting prohibits the rental of any vehicle subject to a safety recall notice — including vehicles rented from car sharing services — and prohibits car rental companies from selling used vehicles subject to an open recall. We also believe it can be a model for the broader discussion about fleet safety in all corners of the automotive industry. 

At the end of the day, we believe this compromise represents a workable and enforceable law that will be much more effective in practice because it reflects the realities of our business. This is because the industry had a voice in the process and collaborated with all parties on its development.

Now it’s time for all of you to make your voices heard. We urge you to join with ACRA and our members who have worked to develop this bill in working for its passage. Contact your elected representatives to help us serve the best interests of our customers and our industry by moving this legislation forward.

Read more on the recall bill and other related coverage here.

To see all articles in Auto Rental News' November/December magazine issue, click here.