The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Friday that it was opening an investigation into Mercedes Sprinter vans after it had received 11 reports of Mercedes Amazon vans rolling after being put into park. NHTSA said there is one reported injury and eight crashes.
The issue is troubling, because those vans are big and seemingly everywhere these days. From Reuters:
In a March 16 complaint, a driver in Pittsburgh said the vehicle was turned off and in park and “it rolled backwards down a hill on top of someone’s car and could have killed someone ... This is my second Amazon-branded Mercedes Sprinter accident on different vehicles, with the same exact faulty brake operating system.”
A complaint in February from Manchester, Connecticut, said the issue is with 2019 Sprinter vans rolling out of park after 10 minutes of idling. The complaint said it believes the issue is “potentially an extremely dangerous situation.”
The danger here is obvious but NHTSA spelled it out in case you can’t see it.
NHTSA said “a rollaway vehicle with no operator behind the steering wheel could potentially strike pedestrians, moving or parked vehicles or buildings resulting in injury, fatality and/or property damage.”
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The issue seems specific to 2019 Sprinters; Amazon did not immediately reply to Reuters’ request for a statement, while Mercedes said that it has “has been in close communication with NHTSA about its concerns and will continue to fully cooperate with the agency.”
As someone who just had a recall because there was a risk that my car could roll while in park, it is kind of baffling to me that decades and decades into car production that this is still even an issue, but it is, and not just Mercedes and Honda. Porsche, Fiat Chrysler, and Toyota have had potential roll away issues in recent years, among others. My own recall turned me into a religious hand brake devotee.