Anton Yelchin

Anton Yelchin, a rising actor best known for his role as Chekov in the new “Star Trek” films, was killed in a freak car accident.

Anton Yelchin, the actor best known for playing Chekhov in the reboot of the “Star Trek” movies, unexpectedly died Sunday when his SUV rolled down his driveway and trapped him against a security gate. The death raised the fear of anyone who’s ever parked on a steep incline and worried if the brakes would hold.

Anton Yelchin
Anton Yelchin

Rollaway vehicles kill about 93 people a year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Between 2008-2011, there were were 370 known deaths resulting from an unattended car that had rolled away. NHTSA estimates that rollaway cars also injure about 2,000 people a year. The NHTSA also estimates that about 500 people every year are killed by cars in non-crash accidents — a quarter of those deaths involve carbon monoxide poisoning, and another quarter which involve someone getting crushed by the car, usually when the victim was working underneath it.

But these are just a tiny fraction of the number of people killed in traffic crashes. The CDC estimates that in 2013, 33,804 people died in motor vehicle accidents.

In Yelchin’s case, he appears to have been using a car that has come under scrutiny for its gear system. TMZ has reported, citing the Los Angeles Police Department, that when friends discovered Yelchin’s body, they found his car — a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee — idling in neutral.

The automotive blog Jalopnik reported Monday that the Jeep was one of 1.1 million vehicles that were recalled in April because of a confusing gear shifter that could cause the car to roll away unexpectedly,

Last year, NHTSA began investigating the unconventional gearstick design on these cars, which was causing crashes because drivers were mistakenly shifting to neutral when they thought they were shifting to park.

With a regular gearstick, drivers choose a transmission option (park, reverse, neutral, drive, etc.) by moving the stick into the corresponding notch or detent. Drivers can feel the stick settle into position.

But a new, different, design was used in the cars affected by the recall, which include certain recent models of the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

These cars use a “monostable electric gearshift assembly”, which resembles an arcade joystick. To shift gears, drivers push the gearstick forward or backward and hold it there until the change registers on the display. Drivers then release the gearstick, which springs back into its centered position.

Vehicle recalls are important.  If you have a received a recall notice for your Chevrolet vehicle, please contact our service department at 630-898-9630 to schedule an appointment.  If you prefer, visit our website to schedule your appointment online.

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