Accidents Resulting from Confusing Digital Transmission Shift System
Shifting your vehicle into park might seem like a basic concept, but some would argue that a new technology that involves digital replacements has made this process counterintuitive. A vehicle with a traditional automatic transmission system is based on the gear selector being shifted into the park, neutral, reverse, or drive position. Drivers who have been operating a vehicle with this system for years might not even need to look at the indicator when shifting in and out of gear. Our attorneys want to call attention to this new technology, referred to as "e-shift," which has been blamed for over a hundred recent auto accidents.
E-shift systems (also referred to as "monostable gearshift") have only three positions, rather than four as seen in traditional automatic transmissions. With this new type of system, the shifter is not in gear in the middle position. To travel in a specific direction, the shifter is pushed in that direction until a light appears indicating the direction the driver wants to travel. Once the driver lets go of the shifter, it returns to the middle resting position. This new system does not enable a driver to confirm the gear the vehicle is in simply by looking at the position of the gear shift. E-shift systems lack the typical grooves and sensation experienced when shifting the car into drive, park, and reverse.
Hundreds of people have filed complaints with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicating they thought they had shifted their vehicles into park, only to have the vehicles roll away according to a CBS News report. The NHTSA is currently investigating more than 850,000 vehicles with the e-shift system. The vehicles being evaluated that are equipped with e-shift transmissions, include the following:
- Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs (2014-2015)
- Dodge Charger (2012-2014)
- Chrysler 300 Sedans
Government investigators found that the system is not intuitive and offers poor visual and tactile feedback, increasing the risk of a collision. The investigators also indicated that the system creates a risk of unintended gear selection. The NHTSA reports 121 accidents related to the confusing gear shift in the vehicles being investigated. The agency indicated thirty people had suffered injuries caused by vehicle roll aways associated with the e-shift system. Without a safety backup system, cars can roll forward or lunge backward because the driver does not realize the vehicle is in drive or reverse. While Fiat Chrysler has reportedly corrected the problem in 2016 models, the vehicle manufacturer has not recalled older models.
The vehicles emit a chime and message when a driver opens the door if the vehicle is not in the park gear, but safety regulators found this warning insufficient to prevent drivers from leaving their vehicle with the engine running and the car in drive.
If you are involved a collision caused by a vehicle defect, the manufacturer of the vehicle, the dealer who sold the car to you, or others can be liable for injuries or deaths. If you have been involved in any type of automobile accident that you believe was caused by another person or company, contact the lawyers at Montlick & Associates to learn about your rights and options.
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