Preventing Car Rollaways: A Crucial Safety Concern
In the quest for automotive innovation and user experience enhancement, car manufacturers have introduced a variety of gear selector configurations over the years. These innovative shifters include rotary dials and push buttons, departing from the traditional column stalk or center console shifter with the familiar Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive, and Low (PRNDL) pattern. While these new designs aim to save space or create brand-specific interfaces, they have also raised concerns about their potential to confuse drivers and lead to unintentional gear shifts, increasing the risk of car rollaways.
The Confusion Caused by Novel Shifter Designs
The shift from traditional gear shifters has raised concerns about driver confusion and the potential for rollaway incidents. Some novel shifter designs have proven so confusing that drivers attempting to shift their cars into Park can unintentionally engage a different gear, putting the vehicle in motion. This unintended movement can lead to property damage, injuries, and even fatalities.
Rollaway Protection Measures
To address the risks associated with unconventional shifters, automakers have implemented various rollaway protection safety features. These systems are designed to automatically shift the transmission into Park, apply the parking brake, or sound an alarm if the driver opens the door while the car is still in gear. These measures aim to prevent rollaway and the potential catastrophic consequences that may result.
The Continued Need for Rollaway Protection
Rollaway protection remains a vital safety feature, even in cars equipped with traditional shifters. Specific scenarios make it particularly easy for drivers to forget to put their cars into Park:
- Using Bank ATMS or Payment Kiosks: Stepping out of the car to use a payment kiosk or bank ATM just out of reach can create opportunities for rollaway.
- Stop/Start Fuel-Saving Feature: Vehicles equipped with a stop/start fuel-saving feature may have the engine turned off when stopped but can still be in gear, making it crucial to engage rollaway protection.
- Keyless Entry and Ignition: Models with an on/off button instead of a traditional key can be accidentally left in the “on” position, necessitating rollaway protection.
According to car experts, it is essential to exercise caution when owning a vehicle lacking rollaway protection. Never assume the car is not in gear, even if there is no audible engine noise. This concern becomes more pronounced in electric vehicles (EVs) and cars featuring stop/start technology, as they tend to be silent when stationary. In contrast, in most conventional vehicles, the sound of the engine running is a reliable indicator of the gear’s position.
Motorists should remain vigilant and prioritize vehicles equipped with these safety measures, mainly when operating vehicles with unconventional shifters or features that can easily overlook the gear position. By staying informed and prioritizing safety, drivers can reduce the risk of car rollaways and contribute to safer roads for everyone.
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