Keyless Ignition Accidents, Deaths Raising Concerns

Keyless ignition technology malfunctions being linked to a number of accidents, some fatal. According to WMGT, despite these reports of <"">keyless ignition malfunctions, the technology is on the rise.

Three deaths in three different events are pointing to issues with keyless ignition, two in Florida and one in New York, as well as some accidents, said WMGT. It seems that drivers left their engines running in garages attached to their homes and subsequently died in their sleep of carbon monoxide poisoning, explained WMGT.

Edmunds Auto Observer noted that, in addition to eliminating drivers’ familiarity with key insertion on the car’s dash or column to start and stop the engine, new engines are quieter and smoother. And, while some problems have to with drivers adapting to the technology, others appear to be technological glitches.

New Yorker, Mary Rivera, survived with permanent brain damage; however, Ernie Codelia, her long-time partner, died from carbon monoxide poisoning she alleges was the result of the keyless ignition technology on her 2008 Lexus, said WMGT. Her lawsuit claims that the technology does not contain sufficient warning features to have stopped Rivera from accidentally leaving her car running.

While Toyota said it sympathizes with the families of those injured due to carbon monoxide poisoning it said, quoted WMGT, “Toyota’s electronic key system fully complies with applicable federal motor vehicle standards and provides multiple layers of visual and auditory warnings to alert occupants that the vehicle is running when the driver exits with the key fob. Electronic key systems such as Toyota’s are neither new nor unique within the automobile industry.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is looking into increasing restrictions to standardize the technology over issues with “carbon monoxide poisoning, vehicle roll-away thefts, and shutting off moving vehicles in an emergency,” wrote WMGT.

According to Edmunds Auto Observer, the number of vehicle models equipped with keyless start grew from 40 to 163 in the past five years, which accounts for more than half of all the new trucks and cars sold in the U.S.

The technology is supposed to sense the key fob, in a driver’s pocket or bag, or elsewhere in the interior of the car, enabling the car to start and, allegedly, alerting the driver if the key is removed from the vehicle’s cabin if the engine is running, explained Edmunds. The driver uses the fob to open and lock the car and presses a button on the dash to start and shut off the car, never needing a key, noted Edmunds.

News reports and information from the NHTSA complaint database point to an increasing trend in problems linked to keyless starts, such as loss of engine power, in which the car’s computer senses that the key fob, although present, is not. And, worse, carbon monoxide poisoning, which occurs when the engine is not shut off after a vehicle is parked in a garage, the fob is removed; the car remains running, sending deadly carbon monoxide into the home. There have also been reports of cars rolling after drivers shut off the vehicle’s engine when the vehicle was either in drive or reverse, noted Edmunds, which explained that this cannot occur in traditional key entry cars that require a vehicle be in park to stop the engine.

A variety of lawsuits are in place against automakers and more are expected.

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