Monday, April 25, 2016
On Friday, Fiat Chrysler announced the recall of over one million vehicles due to an issue with gear shifters where drivers, apparently, may mistake the vehicles for being in park, when really they can roll away. The recall affects Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 vehicles from the 2012-2014 model years, as well as Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs from the 2014-2015 model years. The story has the nation’s attention, with two networks and several national outlets and wires reporting on the defects and the NHTSA investigation into the gear shifters, which was initiated in February 2016 after several reports of FCA vehicles rolling away after supposedly being left in park.
ABC World News Tonight (4/22, story 13, 0:20, Llamas, 14.63M) broadcast that there have been “more than 40 injuries potentially tied to this problem so far.” The CBS Evening News (4/22, story 6, 0:30, Pelley, 11.17M) broadcast also noted the number of injuries connected with the issue.
The AP (4/23, Durbin) reports that NHTSA documents posted online say the shift lever in affected vehicles “is not intuitive and provides poor tactile feedback to the driver,” adding that NHTSA has received over 120 crash reports connected with the issue.
The New York Times (4/22, Vlasic, Subscription Publication, 12.03M) reports that US auto recalls “have continued to mount this year as automakers react to tougher enforcement efforts by regulators.” NHTSA and FCA found that drivers were mistaken about the nature of electronically controlled gear shift levers, turning their cars off without putting the transmission fully in park or not checking the indicator lights on the dashboard to make sure the vehicles are secured in place.
USA Today (4/22, Woodyard, 5.45M) reports online that the recall affects “1.1 million vehicles worldwide, including 811,586 midsize SUVs and full-size cars in the U.S.” Reuters (4/22, Shepardson) reports with similar coverage, adding a statement from NHTSA spokesperson Bryan Thomas, who said that the agency will monitor the recall as it develops.