A new U.S. Senate transportation bill includes a measure that will change safety rules for large truck rentals.
Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal introduced the amendment in part as a response to the November accident at the Harvard-Yale football game in New Haven, Conn., where one woman died and two others were injured when a man driving a U-Haul van ran into them at a tailgate party.
The bill requires the U.S. Department of Transportation to analyze accidents involving rental trucks. The analysis will not only cover fatality and injury statistics, but will evaluate local and state laws that regulate companies that rent trucks. The bill also directs the USDOT to assess maintenance programs at truck rental companies. It mandates that the transportation secretary recommend new rules based on his findings.
“Alarming reports of safety violations and, most recently, a tragic accident involving a rental truck in Connecticut, have raised serious concerns about the safety and reliability of rental trucks driven by millions of Americans each year,” Blumenthal wrote in a press release.
Rental vehicles are not regulated in the same way as commercial truck fleets and so they are not held to the same safety standards at the federal level, according to Blumenthal’s release. Rental trucks are often the same size and weight as the ones in commercial fleets and are operated by drivers with less experience and training.
“While I am pleased that the Senate adopted my provision demanding a closer look at accident data and safety requirements for rental trucks, I believe it underscores the larger importance of passing a bill that is so critical to the safety and integrity of our nation’s highways and transportation systems and those who travel on them each day,” Blumenthal continued in the release.
One of the women injured in the truck accident in Connecticut filed a personal injury lawsuit in the Superior Court of New Haven in April seeking to hold responsible either the driver of the truck or the company that rented the truck who was unsafe, according to the suit.
The man who drove the truck has not been charged with a crime and tested negative for alcohol at the scene.
Blumenthal’s provision in the transportation bill would be a first step towards bringing rental truck fleets up to the same safety standards as commercial truck fleets.