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Safety first

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With the industry facing possible congressional action, five national car rental companies have done the sensible thing and agreed to stop leasing vehicles that are under safety recalls.

The agreement includes Hertz, Enterprise, Avis, Dollar Thrifty and National, according to Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. Legislation has been introduced in Congress to prohibit the rental and sale of recalled vehicles until they have been fixed.

A coalition of consumer groups hailed the agreement as a “major improvement in auto safety, particularly since rental companies are the largest purchases of new vehicles in the nation.” The five companies represent more than 90 percent of the car rental industry.

Participating in the announcement were the relatives of two women who died when their rental car caught fire after a head-on crash in 2004. The vehicle was under recall for a power-steering hose defect that had not been repaired.

Leasing cars under safety recalls is not illegal now, but then it should not require a law to put an end to it.

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