Automatic Transmission Autos Could Kill your Kid

By: Lauren Woods

Without you knowing it, your kid could be turning the ignition on to listen to a piece of comforting music on your car's radio. Bad thing when you have automatic transmission - the simple act of turning the ignition could cost your kid's very life.

Between manual transmission and automatic transmission autos, the big difference is that the latter has no clutch pedal and gear shift. Once, the transmission is put into drive, the whole thing then is automatic. The automatic transmission with torque converter and manual transmission with its clutch accomplish almost precisely the same thing however they do it in totally diverse ways.

Their primary task is to allow the engine to function in its slim range of speeds while delivering an extensive range of output speeds. Another difference between the two is that manual transmissions locks and unlocks various sets of gears to the output shaft to yield the desired gear ratios; while in automatic transmissions same set of gears generates all various gear ratios.

As a fact, an automatic automobile could slip into gear even when the motor is off and the driver's foot is stepping on the brake. The only thing that has to be done is to turn the key in the ignition. The result includes the accessory mode which allows occupants to listen to the car's radio, turn on the lights, or roll down a window. However, having the accessory mode is not at all times pleasure for it could mean accidentally shifting the vehicle into gear. This becomes a fatal problem when the one who turned the ignition is a kid who knows nothing about the functions of a vehicle.

According to experts, when the vehicle starts moving, the kid could become scared and jump out of the car and get run over. Statistics shows that at least 100 children have been injured or killed this way. Consumer groups have recommended the use of a simple safety device that would prevent automatic cars from inadvertently shifting into gear. But some automakers have not integrated the feature to their lineup yet. This is why millions of vehicles on the road these days could hurt or, worst, kill kids.

Automakers have known the metes and bounds about perils of accidental gear shifts in automatic cars. At present, there are over four million Suburbans and millions of other cars, which lack a safety feature called break transmission shift interlock device (BTSI). The BTSI prevents automobiles from shifting into gear, except when the driver's foot is on the brake. Consumer advocates said the part costs less than $15. Almost every foreign vehicle is equipped with the BTSI however advocates said that Detroit lags behind.

"In general, we're seeing that the General Motors, the Ford, the Chrysler products, it's kind of spotty which vehicles have it and which models don't," said Janette Fennell, president of the nonprofit safety organization, Kids and Cars.

On a positive note, automakers - both domestic and foreign - have agreed to a voluntary installation of BTSI in all their vehicles by 2010. So far, models that are not equipped with BTSI in all key modes include Saturn ION, Cadillac CTS,Pontiac GTO, Chevrolet Express, GMC Savannah, Chevrolet Equinox, Pontiac Torrent, Saturn VUE, Chevrolet Silverado Classic, GMC Sierra Classic - all from General Motors. According to the automaker, "All GM vehicles will have Brake Transmission Shift Interlock in Accessory mode by 2008, two years ahead of the requirement."

The BMW X3 and Z4 also do not feature BTSI. BMW said it will be ready for the 2010 agreement. Ford, on the other hand did not give a list of vehicles without the BTSI feature. The company just said 10 percent of its 2007 vehicles do not have BTSI devices. The Jeep Liberty under the Chrysler Group is also not equipped with the auto feature. But according to Chrysler, "The Jeep Liberty will get an updated BTSI when the vehicle is refreshed, which is in the near future." Enthusiasts hope that the automaker should not only concentrate on , brakes, style, and advertising campaigns but also on BTSI as well.

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