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article imageKeyless ignitions prove to be a deadly convenience

By Karen Graham     May 14, 2018 in Technology
A report from the New York Times found that dozens of people have been poisoned by carbon monoxide after failing to shut off the keyless ignition on their vehicles.
At least 28 people have died since 2006 from carbon monoxide poisoning after failing to shut off the keyless ignition on their vehicles, the New York Times found.
Another 40 people have been injured, including some with brain damage so severe, they have difficulty performing everyday tasks. The report highlights the efforts of some groups to push for new regulations from automakers to combat the problem.
Industry experts say the problem stems from using a button instead of a key to turn the vehicle's engine off. Because some car models are so quiet, it is easy for some drivers to forget the vehicle is still running, and when a vehicle is in a garage, this becomes a serious problem.
This is an Ignition switch on a Saab 9-5. Newer vehicles today don t have a switch that requires a k...
This is an Ignition switch on a Saab 9-5. Newer vehicles today don't have a switch that requires a key to start the engine.
User Ballista on en.wikipedia
The NYT examined news reports, police records, and lawsuits, and notes the true number of deaths could be much higher than what they found. CNN Money reported in 2015 a class action lawsuit was filed against most major automakers over what attorneys call a deadly "defect" in keyless ignition systems.
The lawsuit claimed there had been 13 carbon dioxide-related deaths in the U.S. linked to keyless ignition cars. A judge dismissed the suit in September 2016.
Universal regulations needed
Quite a number of automakers have listened to advocacy groups over concerns about the keyless ignition systems. Seven years ago, the Society of Automotive Engineers called for requiring automakers to include warning signals — such as a series of beeps to warn drivers.
girl shows Honda Odyssey (international) Smart Entry System in 2015..
girl shows Honda Odyssey (international) Smart Entry System in 2015..
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) then proposed a new regulation in line with the Society of Automotive Engineers idea. The auto industry opposed the rule and the agency has yet to follow through with any regulations, reports Fox News.
Then, in 2013, the NHTSA launched a probe into seven automakers to find out what safety measures they installed on keyless ignition vehicles. "But the inquiry was quickly and inconclusively wound down," the Times reported.
"Once NHTSA has finished its review and determined the best path forward, NHTSA will take appropriate action," the agency said in March in a statement to the Times.
Interestingly, the NYT found that Toyota vehicles, including some Lexus vehicles, played a role in almost half of the carbon monoxide deaths. Toyota told the news outlet its keyless ignition system "meets or exceeds all relevant federal safety standards."
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