The recalled Jeep shifter is just bad user interface design

The recalled Jeep shifter that may have been involved in Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin’s death is a straightforward example of how things get harder to use when you take controls out of hardware and put them into software. It’s a UI problem, and an entirely avoidable one.

First things first: if you have a 2014 or 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee or a 2012-2014 Dodge Charger or Chrysler 300, you should call your dealer right now and set up an appointment for the recall. According to my local dealer, the update takes 3.5 hours, and it patches the car’s software to engage the emergency brake if the driver’s door is opened when the car is in neutral. That’s it. It’s a software update that was finally accelerated in the past few weeks after a death,…

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