Ford is introducing new technology on the 2017 Ford Fusion to help prevent rollaways. The feature is called “Return to Park”. It’s designed to automatically shift into park under certain circumstances.
The smart technology involves a new rotary gear shift dial. It automatically dials down to P, for park, on its own when it senses the driver is about to leave the car, even if the driver forgets to put it into park. Sensors from the Fusion’s network detect if they turn the car off and open the driver’s door, unbuckled while at a standstill. If driver’s don’t put it into park, the system will shift into neutral until it slows to 5 mph, before going into park. This avoids damaging the transmission.
“Return to Park” is designed to shift into park under these conditions:
- When you turn the vehicle off
- When you open the driver’s door with your safety belt unlatched and the vehicle stationary
- when your safety belt is unlatched with the driver’s door open and the vehicle stationary
On average about 2,000 people are hurt in rollaway incidents every year. It’s why Fiat Chrysler is being sued for the death of actor Anton Yelchin, who was crushed when his Jeep Cherokee rolled down a hill and pinned him against a gate. There is a recall on his particular model over the parking gear shift issue. A design flaw can make it seem as if the vehicle is in park when it’s not.
Between 2012 and 2014 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded nearly 360 deaths caused by roll away vehicles.
When I was first learning how to drive, I accidentally abandoned my dad’s old land cruiser without parking it. The thing just rolled to a stop so smoothly I thought it was parked. This technology would have been great then. It will give today’s drivers peace of mind for themselves and their kids.