Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:
An excellent article in the NY Times reports:
The interior of a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Problems with the car involve an electronic gearshift, whose operation is similar to that of a video-game joystick. Credit Joe Raedle/Getty Images
“The death of the actor Anton Yelchin, killed when his Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled backward down a driveway and crushed him against a mailbox pillar last weekend, has cast a public spotlight on a problem with some models of Jeeps and other Fiat Chrysler vehicles.
But for the company, there is nothing new about the issue — which federal regulators first flagged last August.
The question is why, nearly a year later, Fiat Chrysler has still not come up with a fix for the problem, which has now been linked to hundreds of accidents, dozens of injuries and now — potentially — a well-publicized death.
The company, which issued a recall notice on more than one million affected vehicles in April, will say only it is still working on a solution, there was no decision about a recall until this year and there has been no delay. It has written to federal regulators that the remedy will include a software change and “an additional mechanism to mitigate the effect of operator error.”
That solution is expected no later than July or August, a Fiat Chrysler spokesman, Eric Mayne, said on Tuesday in an email.
And yet, as far back as March, Fiat Chrysler was telling federal investigators that it already had “potential solutions.”
The problem involves an electronic gearshift, whose operation is similar to that of a video-game joystick. It has confused many drivers, who thought they had left their cars in park, only to find they were in neutral, and started rolling away after the drivers stepped out.
Rollaway accidents are particularly dangerous, and the investigation and recall are taking too long, Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, a consumer advocacy group, said on Tuesday.
“There was no sense of urgency on Chrysler’s part or N.H.T.S.A.’s part given the potential for death or injury,” he said in an interview, referring to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.” See http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/22/business/anton-yelchins-death-highlights-a-known-issue-with-jeeps.html