Saturday, March 31, 2012

Rental Cars, Are They Safe?

Raechel and Jacqueline
Raechel and Jacqueline Houck were two sisters who were inseparable.  Unfortunately, not only did they enjoy life together, but they also died together, in my opinion, needlessly.
The Rented PT Cruiser

In October of 2004, the sisters rented a PT Cruiser from Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Capitola, California.  While traveling in the rented vehicle, a defective power steering unit began to leak, resulting in a wind fanned fire in the engine compartment.  With the sudden loss of power steering and from the obscured vision of the smoke, Raechel lost control of the vehicle and slammed head-on into a semi-tractor trailer, costing both women their lives.  As tragic as this was, the two sisters did not have to die, because as you will see, power steering units in the PT Cruiser were on a federal nationwide safety recall that year and the rental car agency was notified of such recall but put the vehicle on the road anyway. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), letters from major rental car companies like Hertz and Enterprise have admitted to putting cars that were under manufacturer's recall on the road even though they were aware the vehicles were not safe but admit to no wrong doing based on a loophole in the law.  According to a U.S. Senate Congressional Committee spearheaded by Senator Barbara Boxer, D-CA, the American Car Rental Association whose members consist of 105 rental car companies have confirmed that only approximately 80 to 90 percent of the vehicles on recall get fixed within 30-60 days after receiving the notice.  However, as you will see in the video below, NHTSA claims those figures are not accurate and that they are actually much worse.  It should be noted that in the Houck case, the two women were killed approximately 30 days after Enterprise received the recall notice from the manufacturer. 

In conclusion, I believe that we as consumers should expect that the vehicle we are renting is in safe working order.   I also submit that if the vehicle we are renting is under recall, that at the very least we should be told that so we can make our own decision to rent that particular vehicle or not.  That is why I support AB 753 sponsored by Assemblymember Bill Monning representing the 27th Assembly District which includes portions of Monterey, Santa Cruz, and Santa Clara Counties. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Still Think Firefighters Don't Earn Their Benefits?

These are the dangers that our firefighters face everyday for you and me, so the next time someone tries to tell you that firefighters don't deserve the pay and benefits they receive, remember this video:

Friday, March 16, 2012

San Jose Firefighters Don't Earn Their Pay?

San Jose's Bravest
Firefighters don't earn their pay and benefits in San Jose?  The firefighter you see rolling off the roof with his turnout gear smoking is a friend and colleague of mine.  He is doing this, not to save a life because everyone made it out alive, but to save someones property.  This man came about as close as you can to literally burning alive after falling inside this burning attic of a West San Jose apartment building.  Thank God we still have Jamie with us and Thank God for people in the world that are willing to go to these lengths to keep you and your family safe.  No matter what part of the world your in, when you retire for the evening, please keep these brave men and women in your thoughts and prayers.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Service Station Safety Tips

How many times have you seen this scenerio:  You pull into a gas station to fuel up.  As your pumping gas, you notice a woman with four small children in a mini-van pull into the island next to you.  The woman exits her vehicle while talking on the cell phone.  You watch as she completes her transaction, removes the pump dispenser, and begins to fill her tank all-the-while continuing to talk on her mobile device.  Continuing with her conversation, she activates the pump refueling hatch and then steps back inside her vehicle.  After a minute or so she exits the van again still talking on her cell phone, directly walks up to the pump handle, disengages the lock, and places the pump back in the cradle. 

What you should do:
  • Always turn off your vehicle's engine when refueling.
  • Keep gasoline and other fuels out of children's sight and reach.  Gasoline is highly toxic in addition to being a fire hazard.  NEVER allow a child to pump gas.
  • Don't smoke, light matches or use lighters while refueling.
  • Pay attention to what you're doing.  Pumping gas is the transfer of a hazardous substance; don't engage in other activities.
  • If you must use any electronic device, such as a cell phone, computer, or portable radio while refueling, follow manufacturer's instructions.
  • Use the refueling latch on the gasoline dispenser nozzle, if there is one.  Do not jam the latch with an object to hold it open.
  • To avoid spills, do not top off or overfill your vehicle.
  • After pumping gasoline, leave the nozzle in the tank opening for a few seconds to avoid drips when you remove it.
  • If a fire starts while you're refueling, don't remove the nozzle from the vehicle or try to stop the flow of gasoline.  Leave the area immediately and call for help.
  • Don't get in and out of your vehicle while refueling.  A static electric charge can develop on your body as you slide across the seat, and when you reach for the pump, a spark can ignite the gasoline vapor.
  • If you must get into the vehicle during refueling, discharge any static electricity by touching metal on the outside of the vehicle, away from the filling point, before removing the nozzle from your vehicle.
  • Use only approved portable containers for transporting or storing gasoline.  Make sure the container is in a stable position.
  • Never fill a portable container when it is in or on the vehicle.  Always place the container on the ground first.  Fires caused by static charges have occurred when people filled portable containers in the back of pick-up trucks, particularly those with plastic bed liners.  Removing the container will also prevent a dangerous spill of gasoline.
  • When filling a portable container, keep the nozzle in direct contact with the container.  Fill it only about 95% full to leave room for vapor expansion.
Talk to your family members, especially teen drivers, about these safety tips while refueling their vehicles so that you never see this:

Thanks goes to the National Fire Protection Association, the authority on fire, electrical, and building safety, for these safety precautions.