The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched what it is calling a “preliminary evaluation” of about 1 million Dodge Ram pickup trucks and Dodge Durango SUVs after 43 complaints alleging that the vehicles rolled away when they were in parked position. According to a CBS news report, the incidents have resulted in at least 25 car accidents and nine injuries to date.
The models being looked at as part of this investigation are model year 2013-2016 Dodge Ram 1500 pickups and 2014-2016 Dodge Durango SUVs equipped with an electronic transmission with a rotary control to select gear position. The reports alleged that the unintended motion or rollaway occurred after the driver moved the transmission gear selector to park and got out of the vehicle. Most of the complaints allege that the incidents occurred when the vehicle was running, some when the vehicle was turned off.
Similar Defects Proved Fatal
The rotary gear selector, a dial, replaced traditional shifters starting in the 2013 Dodge Ram and are used by other manufacturers including Ford, Jaguar and Chrysler. In Ford and Chrysler models, there is a click when you shift gears using the rotary selector. The devices are being used in more vehicles because they take up less space in the vehicle’s console leaving more room for other desired features such as chargers and cup holders.
This vehicle brake defect is similar to the one with Jeep models. About 1.1 million Fiat Chrysler vehicles have been recalled for unintended rollaway issues detected in 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokees and some models of the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger. In fact, that rollaway defect was linked to death of “Star Trek” actor Anton Yelchin. The actor’s parents have sued Fiat Chrysler after his Jeep rolled away and pinned Yelchin to a mailbox, killing him. The new NHTSA investigation relates to a similar issue, but involves a different shifter design in different vehicles.
Auto Product Liability Issues
As auto defect attorneys, we know that defective vehicles are not always recalled. Even if they are, it is seldom done in a timely manner. If you have been injured as a result of rollaway defects or any other vehicle defect, it is important to understand that you have legal rights. You may be eligible to receive compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, rehabilitation, permanent injuries, pain and suffering and emotional distress. An experienced auto product liability lawyer will be able to fight for your rights and hold the negligent automaker accountable.