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Fiat Chrysler vehicles under investigation for roll-away accidents

Posted on Wednesday, December 28th, 2016   

Earlier this month, the NHTSA began a new investigation into the electronic rotary gear shifters in Fiat Chrysler vehicles. The shifters can be found in more than one million vehicles and may have a flawed design. There have been numerous reports of cars rolling away after their drivers exited the vehicle when they believed the vehicle to be in park. In many cases, the car rolled away even when the gear was set to park.

The error is to blame in more than 25 accidents and nine injuries. Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin was killed after his 2015 Jeep Cherokee rolled backwards and pinned him to a pole in his driveway. The electronic gear shifters in question don’t actually change the gears themselves, but instead send a signal to the car to change the gear for you. This method is unlike traditional shifters, which mechanically change a gear’s configuration to the desired function. The technology has been found confusing in the past, and now there is a chance that some units are defective as well. Many people have reported their new cars are not registering being in park, despite the shifter indicating it is.

These electronic gear shifters debuted in 2013 and are used in many vehicle makes, including models from:

  • Dodge
  • Chrysler
  • Jeep
  • Jaguar
  • Land Rover

Hundreds of thousands of vehicles that use these shifters have been recalled, and this is not the first time the NHTSA has launched an investigation into them. Cars with this issue were also recalled in April of this year. Fiat Chrysler’s response has been to incorporate a failsafe, meaning some cars will automatically activate the parking brake if a door is opened while the engine is running. In some cases, they’ve tried to issue software patches to achieve the same effect.

Nevertheless, these so-called roll-away accidents remain a persistent problem that will need to be addressed. Until the results of the NHTSA investigation are released, the causes of the issues may remain unclear. The one thing that is clear is that until that point, these electronic gear shifters pose a real danger. If have been hurt because your car rolled away on its own and you believe that a faulty gear mechanism is responsible for your injury, contact the Tennessee defective car shifter attorneys of Pohl & Berk, LLP. We can help you determine the liability in your case and whether or not you are eligible for compensation. Call us at (615) 277-2765 to learn more.

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