With electronic gear selectors sprouting up across vehicle lineups like so much kudzu, Toyota has decided to introduce a brace of safety feature updates to its vehicle lineup.
Automatic Engine Shut Off and Automatic Park will be included starting with most model year 2020 models.
Toyota will begin to phase in Automatic Park, which is designed to help reduce the risk of roll-away.
The feature will be available in vehicles with electronic means of shifting and is designed to automatically shift the vehicle into the “Park” position and/or apply the electronic parking brake, in the event the driver exits the vehicle without placing the vehicle squarely in Park.
Currently, Toyota vehicles include audible and visual warnings that something is awry.
We’ll take a moment to underscore that, as gearheads, we emphatically believe that every single driver on the road should know how to put their vehicles in Park regardless of the complexity of the gear shifter in their car.
Since using a solid heave to shove a physical lever into Park is not the norm on all vehicles any more, it would behoove the befuddled motorist to spend a few minutes with the owner’s manual to figure things out.
Nevertheless, these things do happen, so Toyota’s engineers are responding in kind. In addition to the Auto Park feature, they are also introducing an Auto Engine Shut Off feature designed to kill the engine after a pre-determined period of time in the event the vehicle is left running. Future enhancements will include smartphone app capabilities as an added reminder.
Back in 2016, actor Anton Yelchin was crushed to death by his SUV when it rolled down his driveway and trapped him against a security gate after allegedly not being placed into Park. Ten years ago, some Toyota vehicles were the subject of recalls after certain all-weather floor mats tended to foul the brake and accelerator pedals.