Three weeks ago a 13 month old boy died after being struck by his familys car in the Mono Village campground at Twin Lakes. Highway Patrol investigators reported that the boys two year old sibling had knocked the GMC Yukon out of park. The vehicle was parked on a hill and rolled over the 13 month old baby leading to this terrible tragedy.
After we reported on the determination of the investigation, listeners asked how it was possible to knock a vehicle out of park without pushing the brake pedal. When we spoke to Doug Northington with the CHP, he said he asked the same question when the parents explained what happened.
Northington found that in certain models and certain years, the gear lever can pull a car out of park without the brake being pressed if the key is in what is known as position C. This is where the key is in the ignition, in the forward position that allows the driver to listen to the radio without the engine turned on.
The feature allows mechanics to change the gear on a car while its up on the lift. Northington explained that vehicles built in the past few years do not have this feature, but the GMC Yukon that belonged to the parents did. Most cars now have an interlock system that requires the driver to push the brake pedal to change out of park.
National Highway Safety officials say that this type of accident is very uncommon. If you do have kids and try to test this out on your vehicle, Northington says that its important to make sure the vehicle cant roll anywhere and is not parked on an incline.