NHTSA Investigating Dodge Vehicles over Reports of “Roll-aways”

Drivers Say Dodge Vehicles Roll-away When in Parked Position

After receiving 43 complaints, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is conducting a “preliminary evaluation” of roughly 1 million Dodge Ram pickups and Dodge Durango SUVs. Users say that the vehicles roll-away after being placed in the parked position. The NHTSA says these reports are associated with 25 accidents and nine injuries thus far. The agency is probing Ram 1500 pickups (2013-2016) and Dodge Durango SUVs (2014-2016) that feature an electronic transmission with a rotary control to select gear position.

Parker Waichman LLP is a national personal injury law firm with decades of experience representing clients in lawsuits over allegedly defective products, including recalled automobiles. The firm continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing a Dodge Roll-away lawsuit.

Documents released by NHTSA last month state, “the reports alleged that the unintended motion occurred after the driver moved the transmission gear selector to park and exited the vehicle.” In most cases, the alleged roll-away occurred while the vehicle was running although some report that the vehicle was off. None of the complaints state that the parking break was engaged when the vehicle rolled away.

The agency also received seven similar complaints involving 39,000 2012-2014 Land Rover Evoque and 2013 Jaguar XF vehicles. These incidents resulted in four injuries. As with the Fiat-Chrysler investigation, users allege “unintended motion occurred after the driver switched the transmission gear selector to Park with the engine running and after the operator excited the vehicle,” NHTSA documents said. In four cases, people said they were injured as the vehicle moved with the driver door still open. One complaint said a person became pinned against a garage wall.

All vehicles utilize a rotary transmission switch. In 2013, a rotary gear selector was implemented in the Ram, and was later placed in other vehicles. The dial differs from traditional gear shifters. The new gear shifter has become more popular because it leaves more room for features such as cup holders, but users say that the new design is not intuitive and increases the risk of an accident.

Fiat Chrysler Recalled 1.1 Million Vehicles over Confusing Gear Shifter

In April 2016, Fiat-Chrysler recalled 1.1 million vehicles for gear shifters that allegedly confuse drivers into thinking that their cars are in park when they are not. The recall affects the 2012-2014 Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 sedans and the 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV. The recall affects 811,586 vehicles in the United States and 317,616 vehicles elsewhere.

The electronic gear shifter may lead some drivers to mistakenly believe they are in the parked position when they are not, causing unintended roll-aways. According to CBS, Fiat Chrysler knows of at least 41 injuries that may be related to the issue.

“The vehicles affected by this recall are equipped with electronic shift levers that return to the same position after each manipulation. Gear-selection is conveyed to the driver by multiple sets of indicator lights, not gear-selector position, and unless due care is taken, drivers may draw erroneous conclusions about the status of their vehicles.” Fiat Chrysler said in a statement.

NHTSA Investigating Dodge Vehicles over “Roll-aways” Reports

NHTSA Investigating Dodge Vehicles over “Roll-aways” Reports

The recall was associated with the death of actor Anton Yelchin. The 27-year-old actor was killed when his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled down his driveway and pinned him against a brick mailbox pillar and a security fence. The vehicle was reportedly on when the accident occurred, which corresponds with most of the complaints submitted. Some vehicles with electronic shifters utilize a safe guard, which turns the car off or automatically shifts it into park if the driver pushes the off button and opens the door. The Jeeps do not have this feature.

NHTSA said, “We’re in contact with local authorities and Fiat Chrysler to understand all of the facts related to this tragic crash, including whether or not this was caused by the current issue under recall. Last year, NHTSA initiated an investigation into the issue, FCA identified the defect, and finally issued a recall last month at NHTSA’s urging. Until all of these recalled vehicles are fixed, owners should take extra care to make sure their car is in park and turned completely off before exiting.”

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