Wednesday, June 22, 2016
In continuing coverage, news outlets report that there is growing concern that a defect in a recalled vehicle may have played a role in the death of Hollywood actor Anton Yelchin. ABC World News Tonight (6/21, story 8, 1:30, Muir, 14.63M) reported that Yelchin was killed after he was pinned by his 2015 Jeep Gran Cherokee. ABC adds that last summer, the NHTSA “began looking into complaints about the gear shifter in Jeep Grand Cherokees, Chrysler 300s and Dodge chargers.” In April 2016, Chrysler issued a voluntary recall over reports of the rollaway cars contributing to 212 crashes and 41 injuries.
Reuters (6/21, Shepardson) reports that the Los Angeles police and Chrysler are separately investigating whether the recalled problem contributed to the crash. The NHTSA “said it is in touch with both to hear their findings.”
NBC Nightly News (6/21, story 7, 2:05, Holt, 16.61M) reported that Chrysler said the recall will involve a software upgrade for the electronic gear shifter that will be ready in July and August. However, NBC notes that “typically, 30 percent to 40 percent of drivers don’t get their cars fixed after receiving a recall notice.”
The New York Times (6/21, Jensen, Subscription Publication, 14.18M) reports that Center for Auto Safety Executive Director Clarence Ditlow said, “There was no sense of urgency on Chrysler’s part or NHTSA’s part given the potential for death or injury.” The Times points out that the NHTSA “had publicly chastised the company, which acknowledged delaying recalls in almost two dozen cases going back to 2013 and affecting millions of vehicles.” NHTSA Head Mark Rosekind had said at the time, “This represents a significant failure to meet a manufacturer’s safety responsibilities.” Chrysler promised to speed up its recalls and agreed to pay close to $105 million in penalties.
Cars (6/21, Schmitz, 876K) reports that the incident has also renewed concerned about electronic gear selectors. The article explains that instead of a conventional gear-shifter that “slides along a track and clicks into varied positions,” the electronic selector “snaps back into a central position upon selection and that position is indicated by lights.”