Keyless Cars & Carbon Monoxide Deaths
Cars that can be powered with just the push of a button are common now days. However, this convenience might have deadly consequences.
Just last year, after driving his keyless car, one man died in his Florida home while he was sleeping. Investigators found that the man had parked his car in the garage and went into his house, believing the vehicle had been shutoff. Unfortunately it wasn’t, and carbon monoxide flooded into his home, ultimately leading to his death.
Sadly, the case described above happens more frequently than you might think. More than two dozen people have been killed by carbon monoxide across the nation since 2006, after their keyless-ignition was unknowingly left running in a garage. Dozens of others have also been injured in similar accidents, many of whom suffered severe brain damage.
Keyless ignitions come standard in more than half of the 17 million new vehicles sold annually in the U.S. With keyless ignitions, drivers carry a fob that transmits a radio signal to their vehicle, as long as the fob is present, the car can be started by just touching a button. But when drivers no longer have to use a key to shut off their cars, they can sometimes make the mistake of thinking that a quieter engine has stopped running.
Seven years ago, the Society of Automotive Engineers called for safety features like beeps that let drivers know their cars were still running, and in some cases, automatically shut the engine off. Based on this idea, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed a cheap software that could power such safety features. However, the auto industry opposed the idea.
Although regulators are now saying they rely on car manufacturers to incorporate warning features, some companies have chosen to go beyond the features recommended by the standards group, while other companies have fallen short.
In fact, Toyota vehicles have accounted for nearly half of the carbon monoxide deaths and injuries, despite the company saying its keyless ignition system “meets or exceeds all relevant federal safety standards.”
Many older vehicles with keyless ignitions have retrofitted to reduce the hazard of being left on, even though the cost to do so is modest. It cost General Motors $5 per car to install automatic shutoff updates during a 2015 recall.
The exact number of carbon monoxide deaths caused by keyless-ignition vehicles left running is hard to calculate because no federal agency keeps comprehensive records. Through 2016, safety agencies investigated only four fatal incidents. Based on data collected from news reports, lawsuits, police and fire records, and incidents tracked by advocacy groups, 28 deaths and 45 injuries from keyless ignition accidents have occurred since 2006, though the figures could be higher.
Have you or a loved one suffered an injury because of a keyless ignition accident? Contact our West Palm Beach personal injury lawyers to set up your free case consultation with our legal team.