Latest News: 25 Million Dollar Wrongful Death Truck Verdict

BLOG TAG: NHTSA

News & Commentary

NHTSA Investigates Fiat Chrysler Over Dodge “Roll-Away” Threat

NHTSA Investigates Fiat Chrysler Over Dodge “Roll-Away” Threat

NHTSA Investigates 1 Million Dodge Vehicles Over “Roll-Away” Threat

For the second time this year Fiat-Chrysler is under investigation by the National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA) over alleged incidents of vehicle “roll-aways.” U.S. authorities have once again found that the problems stem from the electronic transmission gear selectors, which have replaced traditional gear-shifters in the majority of new cars. This transition, from a traditional shifter to an electronic version, has come with a dangerous learning curve for drivers who are not accustomed to the new technology. But even when the transmission is put into park, the car can still allegedly roll off without a driver behind the wheel.

The NHTSA is currently probing 1 million Dodge vehicles, which are owned by Fiat-Chrysler. The agency is inspecting 2013 to 2016 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup trucks and 2014 to 2016 Dodge Durango SUVs after 43 reported “roll-aways” led to 25 accidents and nine injuries. The NHTSA also announced a separate analysis of about 39,000 Land Rover Evoque SUVs and Jaguar XF sedans, which have also been reported to “roll-away” unintentionally. Four injuries have been connected to the Jaguar Land Rover investigation, including one individual who was pinned to a garage door. The NHTSA said both inquiries are in a “preliminary evaluation phase.”

These latest “roll-aways” and subsequent injuries evoke the memory of actor Anton Yelchin, who lost his life prematurely in June when his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee (made by Fiat-Chrysler) “rolled-away,” pinning him against a brick pillar and a fence. Yelchin’s Jeep was included in the recall of more than 1 million Fiat-Chrysler vehicles announced by the NHTSA back in April. But a recall notice did not arrive at Yelchin’s home until seven days after he died. The April recall included 2014 and 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs, 2012 to 2014 Dodge Charger SUVs, and 2012 to 2014 Chrysler 300 sedans. That recall was connected to more than 250 crashes and 68 injuries with over 300 reports of damaged property. Yelchin’s family has since filed a negligence and products liability lawsuit against Fiat-Chrysler.

NHTSA’s Previous Probe Into Fiat-Chrysler

The NHTSA’s last probe into Fiat-Chrysler vehicles in January 2016 followed similar complaints that the gear shifters were not working properly, allegedly leading to “roll-aways.” That investigation led to a national recall four months later, which included Yelchin’s Jeep. A Fiat-Chrysler spokesperson said that the automaker is “cooperating fully with NHTSA’s current investigation,” but added that “the scope” is “limited.” Before issuing any kind of recall, the next step for the current investigation would be to move to the “engineering analysis” phase. This is when the NHTSA would recreate a “roll-away” scenario with one of the vehicles in question in a controlled setting—as they did earlier this year before the April recall.

Both Fiat-Chrysler and the NHTSA recommend all drivers use the additional parking brake (or “emergency brake”) every time they park—even if getting out of the vehicle for only a moment. The NHTSA stated that the most recent reports “alleged that the unintended motion occurred after the driver moved the transmission gear selector to park and exited the vehicle.” The report also stated that none of those cars had their emergency parking brake activated at the time of the incident and the majority had their engines idling.

To eliminate “roll-aways” all together Fiat-Chrysler has created a new feature in their Chrysler Pacifica minivans and Chrysler 200 sedans that can detect when a car door is opened, which automatically engages the emergency brake. Fiat-Chrysler addressed the April recall in a similar way by updating the software to automatically engage the parking brake under certain situations to protect their customers. But until these features are added to all of their vehicles, owners of a 2013 – 2016 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck or a 2014 – 2016 Dodge Durango should take extra precaution when parking and notify the NHTSA with any reports of a “roll-away.”

To file a complaint with the NHTSA see:

https://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/VehicleComplaint/

To check if your vehicle has been affected by a past recall see:

http://consumerwatch.com/vehicle-recall-checker-by-vin-check-vehicle-recalls/

NHTSA Reports Another Uptick in Traffic Fatalities: Will Advanced Technology be the Solution or Cause More Problems?

NHTSA Reports Another Uptick in Traffic Fatalities: Will Advanced Technology be the Solution or Cause More Problems?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), US traffic fatalities in the first half of 2016 (17,775) represented a 10.4% increase from those reported in the first half of 2015 (16,100).  The second quarter of 2016 was the seventh consecutive calendar quarter of increases compared to the prior year’s quarter.

What makes these statistics even more alarming is the fact that the 10.4% fatality rise in 2016’s first half far exceeded the 3.3% growth in vehicle miles during that same period.

Read more

NHTSA’s Autonomous Car Guidelines: Top Ten Things We Learned This Week

NHTSA’s Autonomous Car Guidelines: Top Ten Things We Learned This Week

The recent first death of a driver in an autonomous Tesla brought self driving cars to the forefront of the national conversation. For months there has been widespread rumors in the media and throughout the auto industry that NHTSA is on the verge of issuing new guidelines for autonomous vehicles. Until now, at least for […]

Read more

Self-Driving Vehicles and Federal Preemption

Self-Driving Vehicles and Federal Preemption

Yesterday, Tesla confirmed that the government is actively investigating the first reported fatality involving the company’s “auto-pilot” technology.  The fatal crash occurred on May 6 in Williston, Florida, claiming the life of former Navy SEAL Joshua Brown.  According to Tesla’s public statement about the crash, the car’s autopilot feature failed to notice the white side of a tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky.  As a result, the software failed to apply the brakes, and the car’s windshield struck the bottom of the trailer.

As we have previously written, “autonomous” or “self-driving” automotive technology has the capability to save lives, if implemented correctly.  A self-driving vehicle should theoretically perform better than a human driver if it operates according to a computer code that properly accounts for the surrounding environment and changes in traffic conditions.  However, when technology reaches the market before it is ready, software bugs and design flaws may go unnoticed until it is too late.  We’ve all had a computer crash unexpectedly.  Now imagine if that computer was supposed to be making the call as to when to apply the brakes during rush hour.

Well-developed negligence and strict products liability law already provide the best solution for those instances where self-driving technology fails and results in injury or death.  Under a negligence or strict liability theory, the manufacturer would be held accountable if a design defect caused or contributed to the crash.  The determination as to whether the software had a defect would, in turn, be made in the same manner that these kinds of determinations have always been made—by a civil jury.

Time and time again, the civil jury system has proven the best way to get to the truth in product defect cases.  Each and every automotive crash is unique, and the determination as to whether a product had a defect that played into a crash must necessarily be made only after carefully reviewing the circumstances of that particular crash.  The jury system allows for this type of case-by-case analysis to be conducted in open court, with each party having a fair opportunity to present their claims and defenses.

Unfortunately, auto manufacturers are now actively lobbying federal lawmakers to strip citizens of their rights to a jury trial should they find themselves in the same predicament as the Brown family.  Their weapon of choice in this regard is federal preemption.  Specifically, they are seeking what could be an often-times insurmountable defense whereby regulations implemented by Washington bureaucrats would forever trump the right of any individual citizen involved in a self-driving vehicle crash from seeking relief in the courts.

Earlier this year, the US Department of Transportation announced that it was working on guidance with respect to self-driving vehicle technology.  Since then, both the DOT and the Senate have held hearings in Washington to address the issue.  The DOT guidance is supposed to be released sometime this month.

Stay tuned.  We will continue to monitor and provide updates on the key legal and regulatory battles with respect to self-driving vehicles as they unfold.

Read more

NHTSA Announces Second Tire Recall of 2016

NHTSA Announces Second Tire Recall of 2016

2016 is shaping up to be a busy year for tire recalls, as the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) has already announced the second tire recall campaign to be conducted this month.  The first tire recall campaign announced by the agency this year, which we discussed in detail in this earlier Newsome Melton post, […]

Read more

NHTSA Announces First Tire Recall of 2016

NHTSA Announces First Tire Recall of 2016

Cooper Tire is starting 2016 off with a recall of certain Zeon LTZ light passenger tires manufactured this past September, marking the first tire recall announced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) this year. According to the recall documents posted by NHTSA, the affected tires may fail to comply with a federal safety […]

Read more

NHTSA Advisory Failed to Include Complete List of Recalled Vehicles

NHTSA Advisory Failed to Include Complete List of Recalled Vehicles

Last week, as we discussed here, NHTSA issued a rare Consumer Advisory about the Takata exploding airbag recall. The Advisory purported to include a complete list of vehicles that were part of the recall, and warned people who owned cars on the list to immediately take their vehicles in to a dealership to have the airbags replaced.

Read more

NHTSA Upgrades Chevrolet Corvette Headlight Investigation

NHTSA Upgrades Chevrolet Corvette Headlight Investigation

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is responsible for investigating potential defects in motor vehicles and large vehicle manufacturers’ methods of safety testing. These investigations help determine which vehicles are monitored and manufactured effectively. In July, the agency investigated General Motor’s screening process for 42,000 recalled vehicles with defective Generator Control Modules due to reports of a fire in a repaired vehicle.

Read more
x
OVER $500,000,000 recovered
Newsome Melton has recovered over half a billion dollars for their clients.
Product Liability Lawyer - Newsome Melton

Please do not navigate away from this page until you receive a success notification.
Product Liability Lawyer - Newsome Melton