Automakers Sued Over Keyless Ignition Dangers and Deaths

Vehicle Safety Technology Attorney - The Cooper Firm

Automakers Sued Over Keyless Ignition Dangers and Deaths

Deaths have mounted, but little has been done to solve the issue of the killer keyless ignition.

Now, a New York law firm has taken action into their own hands and has filed a nationwide consumer class action lawsuit in Los Angeles federal court against 10 automakers with keyless ignition vehicles. The lawsuit will force the implementation of automatic cut-off features to prevent further deaths while also help others with economic losses.

Manufacturers have misled drivers about keyless ignition vehicles. Because there have been no clear warnings or descriptions about the key fobs, drivers leave their vehicles running mistakenly due to the fact that their key fob was with them and not near their vehicle. Just because the key fob was with the driver, does not mean the ignition on the vehicle was shut off. Keyless ignitions in their current design pose a significant risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. They also pose a significant risk of vehicle rollaway. This problem had initially been resolved after The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a Final Rule in 1992, which required vehicles with automatic transmissions that have a PARK position to have  key-locking system to prevent removal of key unless the vehicle is in PARK. NHTSA and automakers did little to ensure that vehicle owners knew that yes, although you need to have the key fob to turn the vehicle on, it plays little role in turning the vehicle off. There are very few automakers that have the auto shut off feature after thirty minutes of the vehicle running with the driver’s side door being open and shut. Although the agency has already discovered that the cost would be minimal for remedy, they have not required that automakers make the change.

Safety Research and Strategies Inc., a group that has been advocating for a safety solution since 2009, has discovered 13 deaths related to carbon monoxide poisoning due to keyless ignition. Safety Research and Strategies has done more than just collect the number of related deaths. The group has gathered regulatory history, tested vehicles to assess FMVSS 114 compliance (which they found were antithetical to the letter and intent of FMVSS 114), examined manufacturers’ customer communications, and kept track of NHTSA’s consumer complaints. With all of the gathered data, the group has and filed Freedom of Information Requests to determine what NHTSA has done to solve the problem. The answer being: the government safety agency has done very little except for occasional warnings, and has continued to take more complaints from consumers.

We think this class action is a good thing, and will hopefully prevent many more deaths from occurring in the future.  For more information on keyless ignition, you can visit http://www.safetyresearch.net/blog/articles/keyless-ignition-litigation-solution.

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