Because rental trucks are not considered commercial vehicles under U.S. federal law, they are not subjected to the oversight and inspection regulations of the U.S. Department of Transportation. This is something that major rental truck companies – such as U-Haul, Penske, Budget, and more – spent plenty of time and money lobbying for, and they succeeded.
Some people might wonder why major rental truck companies would make such a substantial investment into keeping their company separate from commercial trucking. But the answer to that question is relatively simple: for profit, and lots of it.
No Special License Needed for Rental Trucks
Vehicles in the U.S. that are officially declared commercial vehicles require that their operators have a special form of driver’s license, called a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Commercial vehicles are also subject to rigorous inspection from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
There are a number of benefits that result from U-Haul’s vehicles not being considered commercial vehicles. First, people who are interested in renting one of U-Haul’s vehicles are not required to have a CDL, meaning anyone with a regular driver’s license is capable of renting a U-Haul rental truck.
U-Haul also benefits from the classification of their vehicles due to the fact that they are not subject to the inspection regulations of the DOT. The company is allowed to set their own inspection regulations, which they claim exceed the federal requirements for inspection. However, multiple investigations into U-Haul and other rental truck companies have found that this is not true.
Profits over Customer Safety
In one investigative report conducted by the Los Angeles Times in 2007 that looked at more than 200 of U-Haul’s vehicles, investigators found that more than half of the vehicles were more than a year overdue for service and maintenance even though the company’s policy requires inspections every 30 days.
Poorly maintained and neglected vehicles drastically increase the odds of a consumer being involved in a rental truck accident.
Many of U-Haul’s vehicles are significantly older and have a high number of miles on them. According to a U-Haul executive, the company has more than 4,500 vehicles on the road with more than 200,000 miles.
The company says it does not automatically decide to retire a vehicle based solely on the years or number of miles that it has driven. And in some cases, U-Haul mechanics have been caught falsifying repair records by claiming that maintenance had been performed when it had not.
All of these factors significantly increase the risk of injury or death to innocent consumers who use rental trucks for moving and other tasks. If you or a loved one suffered significant injuries because of a malfunctioning rental truck, contact the Davis Law Group today by calling 206-727-4000 or contacting us online.