Rental Car Safety Urged Ahead of Vacation Season Travel

It’s been a rough winter in North Carolina, with snowstorms causing major power outages, frigid temperatures, icy roads, school cancellations and halted flights. Now that we are beginning to thaw, many are thinking about a spring or early summer getaway.
Not wanting to pay the money for a plane ticket or put the wear-and-tear on their own vehicle, many will choose to rent a car.

Travelers taking this route need to keep in mind a number of important points regarding the safety and liability. A few of these were recently outlined in an editorial penned by AARP Driver Safety National Director Julie Lee for The Huffington Post.

Most people consider things like whether a vehicle has enough leg room for the number of passengers being accommodated, the fuel mileage and penalty fees for fuel overages or late return times. However, not enough people consider factors, such as insurance, safety, weather, and if a vehicle actually fits the driver.

Not only can overlooking these points make the trip potentially more stressful, it could result in a serious auto accident or leave the driver vulnerable to liability.

The first step is to consult with your own insurance agent. Rental car companies do often provide insurance packages. However, most people don’t know their own insurance companies provide extended coverage for rental cars. You’ll want to check with your own insurance company before accepting the rental company’s package. Not only might this save you money, it could expand the amount of liability coverage you receive. You want to make sure to list all possible drivers of the rental on the agreement.

Keep in mind, the federal Graves Amendment severely undercut rental car company liability for customer driver negligence. That means the rental company is generally not responsible to cover damages caused by negligent operation of that vehicle, even in states with strong statutes on vicarious liability by vehicle owners.

Also note rental car companies currently are not required to adhere to vehicle recall notices. They may be held civilly liable for not doing so, but they aren’t legally required to do it. A bill is pending in Congress that would change that, but it appears unlikely it will garner enough support to pass this session. That means it’s up to customers to check whether there is an outstanding recall notice on a car. This can be done through a new government website that allows drivers to obtain the information by simply entering the vehicle identification number.

Another consideration is to rent a car you may be used to driving. A sportier car can be exciting. Alternatively, a lower price tag for a cheaper, compact sedan can be an enticing prospect. But if you’re used to operating a vehicle with navigation systems, rear cameras and four-wheel drive, consider whether it’s worth the increased risk of a crash to give up those things just to save a few dollars.

Finally, consider the weather where you are traveling and if you are going to need certain enhanced features. For example, if you plan on doing a fair amount of driving at night, you may want to opt for a lighter color vehicles, as those are easier to spot in the dark. Think of the practicality of the vehicle you are driving upon your chosen travel terrain.

Contact the North Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
6 Important Steps for Renting a Car, March 19, 2015, By July Lee, AARP Driver Safety, The Huffington Post

More Blog Entries:
Crusoe v. Davis – Hearsay in Motor Vehicle Accident Litigation, March 17, 2015, Charlotte Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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