In an era of unprecedented scrutiny of automotive safety, Fiat Chrysler is learning that one celebrity's death can turn a seemingly routine recall into a corporate crisis.
The death on Sunday of the actor Anton Yelchin, crushed when his Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled backward down his driveway, has lent a new sense of urgency to a recall announced in April. And it has prompted Fiat Chrysler to accelerate its plans to modify gearshifts in 1.1 million vehicles linked to hundreds of rollaway accidents and dozens of injuries.
On Wednesday, Fiat Chrysler said it would begin notifying vehicle owners later this week about scheduling software repairs aimed at preventing accidents caused by the misuse of a confusing gearshift mechanism.
By industry standards, the recall had already been proceeding at what might be considered a standard, if measured pace. But Chrysler, already operating under a federal consent decree for falling short in past recalls, could not risk another accident involving the gearshifts. That is especially so for its Grand Cherokee, the flagship of Fiat Chrysler's American lineup.
In its update Wednesday, the company did not mention Mr. Yelchin's death.
But Fiat Chrysler's announcement put things on a faster track than statements earlier in the week, when the company said a remedy for the shifters, which many drivers have found confusing to use, would be available in July or August.
A company spokesman, Eric Mayne, on Wednesday declined to say how the death of Mr. Yelchin, which is still under investigation by Los Angeles police, affected Fiat Chrysler's internal decision to move up the repair schedule.
"Our schedule was already accelerated," Mr. Mayne said on Wednesday, without providing further details on the decision.