It’s the latest luxury offered in newer cars: push-start ignitions with a wireless key fob, but there is a hidden danger that experts say is taking lives. According to the automotive website Edmunds.com, keyless ignitions are now standard in 245 models and optional in 31 others. Keys are clearly on the way out. With this new technology, you’re key free, and if you don’t push the button to turn off the engine, you may not realize it’s still running.
Danger can arise if a driver inadvertently leaves the car running when exiting the vehicle—an easy thing to do intentionally or accidentally. Even if you take the key fob with you, the engine can keep idling. If the car is parked in a closed garage attached to a house, especially a basement-level garage, carbon monoxide fumes from the idling engine may seep into the living area, possibly harming anyone in the house.
A subset of keyless-ignition cars, hybrids and plug-in hybrids, pose an even stealthier problem, because they are virtually silent when in electric mode, which they may well be when sitting still after parking. A driver doesn’t have to be absent-minded to assume that the car is shut down—after all, the engine isn’t running. But the car may not be truly off. The engine could restart itself, say to address a climate control need, potentially sending carbon monoxide into the residence.
From 2009 to 2016, at least 20 deaths have been blamed on carbon monoxide poisoning from keyless ignition systems, according to records from KidsandCars.org. Of those deaths, 10 have occurred in Florida. For the same period, there has also been 48 separate carbon monoxide poisoning incidents nationwide that resulted in injuries. (See list of cases below that involve at least one death). Consumer Reports researchers say some vehicle brands have an audible alert to let a driver know the engine is still running, but others don’t.
Some vehicle brands that have an audible alert include:
Some vehicle brands that have no audible warning include:
- Land Rover
News4Jax obtained a class-action lawsuit filed in 2015 against Toyota, Ford, Nissan, Honda, General Motors, BMW, Volkswagen, Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and Kia claiming the automakers ignored the risks associated with keyless ignitions. According to Consumer Reports, in December 2011, NHTSA said keyless vehicles posed a “clear safety problem” and it proposed rules to require an exterior alarm system to warn drivers who walk away from a car that’s still running or capable of starting without the fob being present. Five years have passed and the agency has not taken any action. But that safety feature is not mandatory either. Many of the documented carbon monoxide poisonings linked to keyless ignitions occur when the driver puts the vehicle in the garage and closes the door — not realizing the engine is still running.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a keyless ignition vehicle, contact us at Edwards & Ragatz (904)399-1609 or toll free at (800)366-1609 or via our website at www.edwardsragatz.com.
Source: http://www.news4jax.com/consumer/keyless-ignition-cars-claiming-lives& http://www.nbcnews.com/business/autos/keyless-automobile-ignition-systems-are-fatally-flawed-critics-say-n490111 & http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/hidden-dangers-of-push-button-start