The death of actor Anton Yelchin at age 27 over the weekend could be attributed to a confusing shifter on the car he was driving — and the problem is not uncommon.
Yelchin, who appeared in three "Star Trek" movies, was found pinned between the security wall at his home and his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Sunday morning. He was pronounced dead
later that day. That car was the subject of a safety recall because of its automatic shifter.
Yeltsin's Grand Cherokee was reportedly in neutral when he was found, and it appeared it rolled down the driveway and struck him. The safety recall for the car would have replaced the shifter to a more conventional one after the sleek, high-tech stock shifter was the subject of confusion and caused many people's cars to roll away after they mistakenly thought it was in park.
Fox News reports
that it's not clear whether the car Yelchin was driving had the shifter replaced.
According to NBC News,
Fiat Chrysler — the parent company of Jeep — recalled 1.1 million vehicles in April over the shifter issue. Cars made by Ford, General Motors, and Nissan have seen similar problems with shifters either slipping out of gear or confusing the driver into thinking the car was in park.
The issue stems, according to NBC, from the electronic shifting systems in use. They save space and weight, but there is a wire between the gear shifter and the gear box — which means the driver doesn't actually feel the shifter slide into the proper gear.
"The whole electronic shifter issue is a real concern right now," David Cole of the Center for Automotive Research told NBC. "People may think they've shifted the car into 'Park' but it's not."
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