Jenelle Embrey of Linden, Virginia, has started an online petition drive to bring federal officials’ attention to Jeep vehicles after she and her father watched two people burn to death in their Jeep Grand Cherokee after a highway accident. According to a news report in Consumeraffairs.com, Embrey and her father were involved in a collision last year. When they got off their vehicle, they saw a Jeep that was on fire. A mother and her two teenage children were trapped inside. While her father was able to pull one of the teens out, the woman and her other child burned to death.
Pinto for Soccer Moms
The article states that this was one of 270 fatalities reported as a result of Jeep fires just in 2012. Embrey’s petition is addressed to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and has been posted on the change.org site. This is apparently not a new issue. Three years ago, the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) filed a 69-page petition with regulators that spelled out the problem in great detail. The investigation had previously focused on 1993-2004 model Jeep Grand Cherokees but was later expanded to include 1993-2001 Jeep Cherokees and 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty models.
Clarence Ditlow, executive director of CAS calls these vehicles “Pinto for soccer moms.” He likens these Jeep vehicles to the defectively designed Ford Pinto vehicles that burst into flames on impact. Ditlow says the Jeep vehicles have so far caused 185 fatal fire crashes with 270 deaths and numerous burn injuries. He says that the 1993-04 Grand Cherokee has a fatal crash fire occurrence rate that is about four times higher than SUVs made by other companies. These vehicles have their fuel tanks installed behind the rear axle, which makes them prone to burst into flames following a rear-end collision. In the newer Jeeps, the fuel tanks are located ahead of the rear axle.
Millions in Danger
However, Chrysler insists that the change was made for design reasons and not due to safety concerns. The fact remains that millions of these defectively designed Jeep vehicles are still on our roadways and millions still travel in them. NHTSA is currently in the final step of a process to determine whether these issues warrant a recall. A recall could affect up to 5.1 million vehicles.
After what this family and hundreds of other families have been through, it is appalling that these vehicles are still on the roadway. Automakers are notorious for denying defects and putting profits before the safety and well-being of the people who buy their vehicles and make them profitable. Chrysler should do the right thing and recall these defective vehicles before more lives are tragically lost.