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Recalls Of The Week: Bill Would Allow Rental Companies To Rent Cars Under Recall

The bill would loosen safety requirements for car rental companies and railroads.

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A transportation bill that would loosen safety requirements for car rental companies drew ire from safety advocates.

The bill, introduced by Sen. John Thune, would allow the rental car companies to rent vehicles under recall that haven’t yet been repaired. The companies would still need to inform consumers of a vehicle’s recall notice in writing.

This isn’t the first time Thune, the chairman of the Commerce, Safety and Transportation Committee, has taken what some see as a step backward in safety measures for transportation. Earlier this year, he and other commerce committee members introduced a bill that would give railroads an extra five to seven years to implement safer train technology.

Despite the Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia in May that killed eight people, the bill introduced by Thune last night didn't include a hard deadline for the companies to begin using the safer technology. However, the bill included provisions advocating for Amtrak and other companies to install positive train control equipment in the next three years.

Critics of Thune’s train safety proposal include The National Transportation Safety Board, which has been strongly advising railroads to adopt positive train control for nearly half a century.

The president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, Rosemary Shahan, is also at odds with Thune’s bill. She said, “You shouldn’t have to worry that it’s perfectly legal, under federal law, for a rental car company to hand you the keys to a ticking time-bomb car.”

The ongoing high-profile, widespread recalls of the Takata air bags and GM ignition switches weigh heavy on many consumer’s minds, and the bill undermines the recent work of consumer groups who are pushing to prevent companies from being able to rent potentially unsafe vehicles.

Others support Thune’s bill, arguing that the proposal is pro-consumer. Commerce Committee spokesperson Frederick Hill said, “This provision would establish a new pro-consumer requirement that the recall status of a vehicle must be disclosed before renting.”

Is the proposed bill pro-consumer, or does it jeopardize consumer safety? Comment below or tweet @MNetBridget.

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