The summer months are traditionally the time when many families go on vacation. Summer travel plans frequently involve flying to a destination and then renting a car. Whether you need an economy car to get back and forth from your hotel to the airport, or a sport utility vehicle to explore the area or make a long-distance trip, you want to be sure the vehicle that the rental company issues you is safe and offers protection to keep you and your family safe.

Until recently, there was nothing to prevent a rental car company from renting a car that had been recalled and had not yet been repaired. Many safety issues identified in recalls pose an increased likelihood of car accidents and injuries. In 2015, there were nearly 900 recalls nationwide involving a record 51 million cars as a result of manufacturing defects and safety issues.

Fortunately, new federal rules, effective June 1, require rental car companies to fix vehicles that have been recalled before renting them. The rules apply to rental car companies and car dealers with fleets of more than 35 vehicles.

If you are preparing to rent a vehicle, the following is important information both on the new laws governing rental cars, as well as how to ensure the vehicle you choose is safe for you and your loved ones.

Automobile Recalls And Your Rental Car

Automobile recalls are issued when defects are identified that pose a danger to the health and welfare of drivers and passengers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sets minimum safety requirements for all vehicles and has the power to require automotive manufacturers to issue car recalls when a vehicle’s performance, design, structure or equipment does not meet federal safety standards. Common types of safety defects for which a car may be recalled include:

  • Defects in steering components that could prevent you from controlling the vehicle;
  • Problems with fuel systems that could result in increased risk of fire or explosions;
  • Issues with sudden acceleration, preventing drivers from being able to control the speed of their vehicle;
  • Defects in wheels or tires, resulting in blowouts and loss of control;
  • Defects in safety devices, such as airbags and shoulder harnesses, that could increase your risk of injury in the event of an accident.

The NHTSA requires manufacturers to notify vehicle owners when their car is subject to recall and to pay for the parts and repairs to correct the problem. But it is up to the automobile owner to respond to the recall. In terms of rental cars, it is easy for rental car companies to lose track of when a car has been recalled and to neglect getting the needed repairs. The result was that consumers who rented a vehicle had no assurances that the vehicle they have rented was actually safe to be on the road.

Rental Cars Now Safer Due to Federal Laws

The new federal law passed earlier in the year requires car rental companies to address all known safety defects before renting cars to their customers. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act prohibits car rental companies and dealers with fleets of more than 35 vehicles from renting unrepaired cars. As a result of the FAST Act, rental car companies now face increased federal oversight in term of documenting repairs on their vehicles, as well as penalties in the event that safety defects are not addressed. Families on vacation should be able to expect that the car they rent is safe from known safety problems.

A June 2016 Forbes report on the impact of the FAST Act on rental car companies states the legislation was championed by the family of two sisters who were killed in a rental car in 2011. Despite the fact that the car the sisters were driving had previously been recalled, the rental car company had not had the required repairs made, and the sisters had no way of knowing of the vehicle’s potential danger.

Having a recalled, unrepaired vehicle on the road may result in injuries to the car driver and passengers and to other motorists on the road as well. By holding car rental companies accountable, the new law seeks to ensure that renting a car is safer for consumers, while helping to prevent serious and potentially deadly car accidents and injuries.

How Safe Is Your Rental Car?

When it comes to rental car safety, there are ways to ensure the vehicle you lease or rent is not subject to recalls or defects that could put you and your family at risk. You can stay up to date on the latest safety information by viewing the NHTSA list of car safety defects and recalls.

The list allows you to search for recalls on your own vehicle or a rental car through the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). In addition to ensuring the car you are driving is safe, always make sure when taking a trip to follow all traffic laws and avoid common types of driving behaviors that can result in accidents, such as being tired, using cellphones or texting while driving, and driving under the influence of alcohol or medications.

Let Us Assist You with Your Case

If you or someone you care about has suffered injuries as the result of a car accident caused by another driver or a vehicle defect, contact the Becker Law Office today. Our experienced car accident attorneys provide professional legal representation to help you hold the at-fault parties accountable for the injuries they cause. We can assist you in seeking the compensation to recover from your accident, including compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. We serve Louisville, Lexington, Florence, and Cincinnati. Call or contact our office online today for a free consultation.