Keyless Ignition Linked to Carbon Monoxide Deaths

Vehicle Safety Technology Attorney - The Cooper Firm

Killer Keyless Ignition

The new fancy addition to new vehicles is now posing a threat to its drivers. The keyless entry vehicles with smart key technology are making it difficult for drivers to know whether their vehicle is shut off or not.

The key fob is a small transmitter that communicates with the vehicle’s computer. The driver doesn’t need to handle the fob to unlock or start the car.

If a driver is distracted, it can be easier to leave the car running without realizing it. If that occurs in an attached garage, it can be a deadly mistake. It can be difficult to hear that the vehicle is still running. Essentially, the engine can be left running as easily as the headlights can be left on.

Keyless technology was introduced less than a decade ago, but it is rapidly spreading. The number of models with them as standard or optional equipment has risen in the past five years. Automakers offer the system on 155 models this year.

A keyless car may be a convenience, but there is nothing to remind you to turn the vehicle off.

In 2010, a 29-year-old woman, Chastity Glisson, died in house from carbon monoxide poisoning. This was a result of her accidently leaving her 2006 Lexus running in her garage. Her smart key was found inside of her house. The smart key was also blamed for a car heist from a dealership in New Jersey where a pair of thieves switched the smart keys while pretending to be potential buyers, and coming back later that night to take the sports car. The keyless ignition feature in the Lexus allows the engine to continue to run indefinitely even after the driver walks away with the key fob that communicates with the car.

There have also been reported issues of people pulling into their driveway forgetting to put their car into park and turning it off. These smart cars do not automatically go into park when the ignition is shut off. Most of the vehicles with smart keys do not have warnings that signal enough, to show there is an issue when the driver exits the car. Some of the vehicles with smart keys after being turned on can even be driven away if the smart key is not in or near the car. Other instances show that these keyless vehicles were unable to be shut down during emergencies on the highway as well as sudden acceleration events.

“We really haven’t seen too much confusion with these systems,” said Dave Proefke, a vehicle security engineer at General Motors Co. “As they become more widely adopted, I think we’ll find that they converge in how they operate,” he said. These keyless entry cars have become widely popular despite their safety issues. If the industry would work harder to explain the new functions of these vehicles there may be less reported issues.

If you are the owner of a smart key vehicle, make sure you read your vehicle manual to know what to do if you are presented in an emergency situation or if you are unaware of what the key can and cannot do. By understanding the technology and your car you can prevent yourself from being in a traumatic situation.

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1 Comment

  1. […] Keyless ignition vehicles have been a defect for over a decade, leading drivers to 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. As a result, there have been deaths and injuries due to rollovers and carbon monoxide poisoning. […]

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