Killer Keyless Ignition

There have recently been deaths and injuries associated with keyless ignition in certain Lexus model vehicles.

Mary Rivera parked her Lexus in the ground floor garage attached to her home. She left the engine running. The next day family members went to her home and found Mary unconcious and her partner, Ernest Cordelia in bed, dead. Ms. Rivera suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning and is brain damaged. An autopsy showed that Mr. Cordelia’s blood was filled with carbon monoxide.

Chastity Glisson was found dead in her townhouse and her boyfriend, Timothy Maddock injured. Ms. Glisson’s Lexus was found in the garage. The carbon monoxide levels in Ms. Glisson’s home was more than 150% of what is considered dangerous.

How did this happen? 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.
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.

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.

What can be done? A switch could turn the ignition off if the car has been idle or unoccupied for a period of time. A warning alarm could sound similar to not wearing a seat belt.

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

The Cooper Firm specializes in auto product liability cases. Please contact The Cooper Firm for additional information.

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