Keyless Cars Increase the Risk of Carbon Monoxide Death
In this digital age, it is convenient to have a vehicle that can be turned on and off by pushing a button instead of turning a key. According to Edmunds, an auto information website, keyless ignitions are standard in most new vehicles sold in the United States. Drivers carry a critical fob that transmits a signal to start their car. However, this convenience can have a deadly effect. Without turning and removing a key to shut off the engine, drivers mistakenly think the vehicle has stopped running. When, in fact, they are at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
When a vehicle is parked in an attached garage with its engine running, it will release carbon monoxide, which will enter the home and injure or kill everyone living there.
Since 2006, over two dozen people in the United States have been killed, and 45 others have been injured, some left with brain damage by carbon monoxide caused by a keyless-ignition car that was unintentionally left running in a garage.
Auto Group Calls for Safety Features
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) is the world’s leading automotive standards group. In 2009, the group saw a rise in deaths caused by carbon monoxide poisoning from keyless vehicles left running in the garage.
The organization recommended automakers provide a warning feature that would alert drivers to shut off the engine before leaving and for a shutoff function to prevent the problem.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed a rule based on that idea. However, the auto industry opposed the proposal.
Automakers to Make Warning Features Voluntarily
Regulators are relying on carmakers to incorporate these warning features voluntarily. A survey by The New York Times found that while some car manufacturers go beyond the recommended features, others fall short.
According to testimony in a wrongful death claim, Toyota has a system of one audible signal inside the car and three outside to alert drivers that the engine is still running. But when engineers recommended a more effective warning signal, like a unique tone or flashing lights, Toyota rejected the suggestion.
Despite the low cost, many older cars have not been retrofitted to reduce the risk. According to a report by General Motors, installing the automatic shutoff costs $5 per vehicle.
Types of Keyless Ignition
Keyless fobs vary from model to model. Some standard fobs used with today’s vehicles include:
- Keyless GO
- SMART Key
- FAST Key
- Comfort Access
- Intelligent Key
These key fobs emit a low-frequency radio signal that opens the vehicle’s doors and disarms the ignition immobilizer. A single push of a button on the dashboard starts and turns off the engine.
Keyless Car Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Lawsuits
Numerous people throughout the United States have died due to carbon monoxide poisoning from keyless start ignitions, and surviving family members have filed lawsuits for compensation. The lawsuits alleged automakers sold keyless fobs without adequate warnings, safeguards, or other safety features.
Consumers have complained to the NHTSA about the need for an auto-off feature. General Motors and Ford have been issued patents that address the issue, indicating that they are aware of it.
Watch the YouTube Video: The Risks of Keyless Ignition Technology. The video from NBC2 News explains how the convenience of a keyless ignition vehicle can kill you.
Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyers
I’m Ed Smith, a personal injury attorney in Sacramento. If you were involved in an accident in Sacramento and suffered severe injuries, our law firm can help you through this difficult time. Call our legal team at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly case advice.
Since 1982, our accident lawyers have helped injured Northern California residents obtain fair compensation for their damages.
See our past case results for reference on our Verdicts and Settlements page.
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