Personal Injury Lawyers And Safety Advocates Are Demanding Better Safeguards Against Vehicle Rollaway Risks
“Vehicle Rollaway Accidents should not be happening with the frequency we are seeing today,” according to LeMaster & Ahmed personal injury and car accident attorney Jennifer LeMaster, “We have the technology to land a car-sized rover on the planet Mars and direct its activities from Earth for months or years with sophisticated software. The hardware and the software exists for much safer cars. The fact is that automobile manufacturers have been slow to upgrade their products and make them safer. I have no reservation about demonstrating to a jury in a personal injury lawsuit what an automobile manufacturer has NOT done that could have prevented a tragedy. Unfortunately these tragedies are far too common. Rollaway accidents should be extremely rare, or better, a distant memory.”
A rollaway accident occurs when any vehicle moves without a driver being in control of the vehicle. A common cause of vehicle rollaway accidents is the failure to place a car into PARK or when a vehicle “slips” out of PARK into gear. Brake Transmission Safety Interlock (BTSI) is one safety improvement mandated in 2010. But it is not present in most vehicles older than eleven years or vehicles with standard transmissions (manual shifting).
Humans will always make mistakes. When a simple mistake results in severe injury or death it is more than a tragedy. It is an event that has occurred before and could have been avoided with better hardware and software (technology). Every automobile and truck manufacturer in the world is aware of the issue of vehicle rollaway accidents. The question is whether or not the manufacturer has decided to add the most advanced safety features. In many cases the answer is “no” and when an accident does occur a personal injury case is a virtual certainty.
Causes Of Vehicle Rollaway Accidents
- Children left in a car
- Keyless ignition systems that allow a driver to exit without turning off the engine
- Faulty or worn transmissions that allow the shifter to be placed between PARK and an adjacent position such as neutral or reverse
- Faulty parts such as a solenoid pin that prevents the BTSI safety system from working properly
- Design flaws in how transmissions are operated
- Mechanical shifters that are NOT designed to automatically place a vehicle in PARK
How Can You Prevent A Rollaway?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has written a guide for the prevention of vehicle rollaway accidents. A significant percentage of rollaway accidents are caused by small children. The most important points are as follows.
- Determine if your vehicle has BTSI technology
- Every time you park, use the emergency brake to lock the rear wheels
- Never leave keys in the ignition
Lock the vehicle when unattended
- Teach children not to play inside or around cars
- Supervise children carefully when around cars
Other common sense precautions are:
- Always turn off the engine when you exit a vehicle
- Always carefully check the position of the transmission shifter when placed in PARK position
“It is very sad to see a child injured or killed in a vehicle rollaway accident. In every case I ask myself what could have been done to prevent this tragedy. This is the exact same question every engineer at every automobile company should be asking. They should also be thinking of all the possible scenarios that could lead to an accident and then design safety features to prevent them. Unfortunately the automotive industry has a long history of arguing against safety improvements citing the cost to the consumer. If safety features are not legislated by the federal government then consumers only recourse is to sue automobile companies in a personal injury lawsuit,” explained Ms. LeMaster.
Vehicle Rollaway Safety Enhancements Available Today
Electronic Parking Brake with software that automatically engages when the driver’s door is opened and the vehicle is not in PARK
Electronic Shifters that also automatically places the car in PARK when the driver’s door is opened
“This safety technology exists and it is incredibly cheap. But until it is built into every car in the United States we will still have vehicle rollaway accidents and personal injury lawyers will continue to sue automobile manufacturers until they take the moral and ethical steps to protect their customers and their children,” stated Ms. LeMaster.