Keyless ignition systems have been around since the early 2000s, especially as a feature in luxury vehicles. They have become more common in recent years in mid-range car models too. While keyless starting systems are very convenient, these systems may also pose serious safety concerns that have been highlighted by automotive experts as well as legal professionals.
In a keyless system, a traditional key is not required as long as the key fob is nearby. But unfortunately, there have been several accidental deaths related to carbon monoxide poisoning because of this feature and numerous other injuries as well.
How Does Keyless Ignition Work?
In a keyless ignition system, your car keys can be replaced by a single electronic key fob, which acts as a radio transponder. The fob communicates with your car as long as it is in range. The engine cannot start until the key is not in proximity to the vehicle. But the car doesn’t automatically turn off when the key is taken out of the car. This has caused confusion among drivers and also some major accidents.
Keyless Ignition Safety Risks
These are three major safety risks associated with keyless ignitions:
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
As we touched on earlier, carbon monoxide poisoning has killed a number of individuals. This occurs when the driver accidentally leaves the car running in a garage or some other enclosed space. Generally, car owners or drivers don’t realize the car will continue to run even after they remove the key from the car. They assume that the engine would shut off on its own when they remove the key.
- Roll away accidents
You cannot remove the key in a traditional ignition system without first putting the car in park. This is not required in a keyless ignition system. There have been several drivers that accidentally left their vehicle in gear without engaging the parking brake. This resulted in the car causing a collision or rolling down an incline.
- Roadside emergency
Another safety concern is that people that don’t understand how keyless ignition systems work may not be able to turn off their engines in case there is an emergency. They may forget to turn off the engine in the heat of the moment and leave the car with the key fob. This can lead to major dangers and hazards.
Fatalities because of Keyless Cars
Keyless ignition systems cause fatalities when drivers don’t remember to turn off the car. With most modern cars being ultra-quiet, drivers don’t register that their vehicle is still running. They forget to push the start/stop button. Cars that are left running continue to expel carbon monoxide and exhaust.
Carbon monoxide is one of the most dangerous gases since it is colorless, tasteless, and odorless. It is also highly toxic. The Times article published that most fatalities occurred when drivers did not realize their car was still running. Carbon monoxide seeped into the house over several hours and injured or killed the people inside. This often happens when everyone is in bed asleep.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are nausea, headache, shortness of breath, dizziness, confusion, vomiting, and impaired vision. Coma and death follow if exposure continues. Victims that manage to survive experience cognition problems, memory loss, and brain damage for the remainder of their lives.
Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
A federal regulation was proposed by NHTSA requiring all car manufacturers to install safety measures for preventing such errors from occurring. However, this proposal has yet to go through. In the interim, automakers are left to determine the safety features installed in different models.
You should pay attention to safety systems if you are considering purchasing a vehicle with new keyless ignition. Some cars automatically turn off the engine when idling for some time while others beep for several times. There are certain cars that alert the driver in case the vehicle is still running.
It is smart to invest in carbon monoxide detectors whether you have a keyless ignition car or not. According to the CDC, you should place one outside the bedroom.
Liability in Keyless Ignition Accidents
It may be possible to prove that the car manufacturer was negligent along with the driver depending on individual circumstances. This is usually possible in parking-related accidents. There is an ongoing federal lawsuit against 10 car manufacturers alleging that they had knowledge of the risks associated with keyless ignition systems and still failed to include reasonable safeguards. This makes them liable for the fatalities.
Consult with a Reputable Personal Injury Attorney Today
Stein & Fox Accident Attorneys can help you file a claim and recover fair compensation if you or a loved one was injured in a motor vehicle-related accident. We have years of experience helping victims of car accidents and keyless ignition-related accidents. You can count on us to do everything we can for helping you secure a full and fair settlement. Get in touch with us today to schedule a free case review by calling at 770-961-1700 or using our online form.