Americans who are in the market for a new or used vehicle often make several assumptions. They assume that the cars they consider buying have met minimum safety standards and that they are legal on public roadways. They assume that there are no defects in the vehicles which would make them unreasonably safe to operate. And often, they assume that they will have no problems with basic driving tasks including starting the car, moving forward, and turning.
But if you live in the Phoenix area and you drive a Fiat Chrysler vehicle that is covered by a recent recall, odds are that you may have a hard time telling if you put your vehicle in park.
The recall affects 2012-2014 Dodge Chargers, 2012-2014 Chrysler 300s, and 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokees sold predominately in North America but with approximately 248,000 vehicles outside of this continent. In total, 1.1 million cars and SUVs are being recalled.
The affected vehicles have an electronic shift lever that moves forward and backward but does not move along a track. If a driver wants to place the vehicle from “drive” to “park,” the driver must push the lever forward three times until the “park” notification is illuminated near the electronic shift. If the vehicle is not properly placed in park, a driver can still exit the car but will be alerted through audio tones of the condition; however, the engine will not turn off automatically and therefore the vehicle faces and increased risk of rolling away when the driver intended to put it in park.
So far, 41 potential injury-causing car accidents have been reported related to this electronic gear shift, according to Fiat Chrysler. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received at least 121 reports of similar accidents.
If you own an affected vehicle, you will be notified in writing about the recall so that you can take all necessary steps to have a fix installed on your car. At present, authorized dealers are adjusting the electronic gear shift to make it more user friendly and they will also install a fix that will prevent a car or SUV from moving once the driver has exited. If you are concerned about the safety of your car in the interim, contact your local dealership to discuss your particular vehicle and to learn whether you should be taking any additional steps to keep yourself and your family safe.
If you buy a car in Arizona, you should be able to rest assured knowing that the car will not roll away once you place it in park and exit the vehicle. Put simply, it is the duty of automobile manufacturers to design and sell only vehicles which are safe and which comply with national guidelines related to functionality and safety. Failing to do so may make a manufacturer liable to an injury victim to the total extent of any harm done to that victim, including any medical bills she sustains if she is injured and any pain and suffering she must endure.
Prior Blog Entry:
Five of Nation’s Most Dangerous Railroad Crossings are in the Phoenix Area, Phoenix Injury Lawyer Blog, published April 27, 2016.
Rollaway Risk Prompts Fiat Chrysler Recall of More Than 1.1M Cars, SUVs, by Dee-Ann Durbin, Claims Journal, published April 25, 2016.