Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (NASDAQ; FCAU) is recalling over 1.1 million vehicles and SUVs worldwide over safety issues linked to the cars’ risk of rolling away after drivers exit, the automaker announced on Friday. The company said there have been 41 reports of injuries because a poor design of gear-selection caused drivers to mistakenly assume cars were in park before exiting.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said testing of the cars’ electronic gear shifter found it “not intuitive and provides poor tactile and visual feedback to the driver, increasing the potential for unintended gear selection”, as reported by Reuters.
Gear-selection on the affected vehicles is conveyed to drivers only by indicator lights instead of gear-selector position. Fiat Chrysler however, said this may have led drivers to falsely believe their cars are in park.
The company promised to update the vehicles to automatically prevent them from rolling away, under specific circumstances, even in cases in which the drivers fail to put them in park for whatever reason. Still, the drivers could’ve been more careful about the incidents in some cases, considering they happened by not putting the car in park. The automaker didn’t announce when the recall remedy will be available though.
Bryan Thomas, NHTSA spokesman, said the agency will monitor the recall “carefully” to make sure that the company comes up with a solution and fixes the problem in the affected cars as soon as possible.
The recall includes the 2012-2014 Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 sedans and 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee sport utility cars, Reuters reported. Most of the customers’ complaints come from the United States, with roughly 811,000 affected vehicles in the country. In addition, there are about 52,000 affected cars in Canada, almost 17,000 in Mexico and nearly 250,000 cars outside North America.
Crashers, injuries and hospitalizations
The NHTSA said on Friday that its investigation on the shifter in the affected cars found an evident safety issue that has caused hundreds of crashes and dozens of injuries. The wreckage toll includes 121 crashes after vehicles drifted away, some striking drivers, other cars or even buildings.
As of February, there were three complaints of a broken pelvis and four other injuries requiring hospitalization. Another complaint said that a new Jeep Grand Cherokee in Leonardtown, Maryland, rolled away and struck headstones in a cemetery in September 2015. The accident caused $1,500 in damage.