Keyless cars have killed at least 28 people due to carbon monoxide poisoning, as drivers sometimes forget to turn off the vehicles, leaving the engine running.
Keyless ignition, which has been around since the mid-2000s, is a very convenient feature. However, the cost for that convenience may be higher than what some people are willing to pay.
Keyless Ignition Killed 28 People, Injured 45 More
Keyless ignition allows drivers to start their cars with the push of a button, instead of having to turn a key. A wireless electronic device, known as a fob, tells the system that the driver is in the vehicle, activating the push-button start.
The feature, however, has proven to be dangerous. The New York Times, after browsing news reports, police and fire records, lawsuits, and incidents that advocacy groups tracked, identified 28 deaths and 45 injuries since 2006. However, the figures may very well be much higher than those.
One incident that the New York Times provided happened in summer last year. Fred Schaub returned to his home in Florida, parking his Toyota RAV4 into his garage. He took the wireless key fob with him, apparently believing that the vehicle's engine was shut off. After 29 hours, Schaub was found dead in his house, killed by carbon monoxide poisoning while he was sleeping.
"After 75 years of driving, my father thought that when he took the key with him when he left the car, the car would be off," said Doug Schaub, the victim's son. Fred Schaub is just one of the lives claimed by keyless cars, with some of the people who have been injured suffering from brain damage.
How To Improve Keyless Ignition Safety
Seven years ago, the Society of Automotive Engineers pushed to require automakers to include warning signals, such as beeping sounds, when the driver forgets to turn off the engine of a keyless vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed regulations in line with this idea, but the automobile industry opposed them.
Some carmakers have now voluntary included safety features related to keyless ignition, such as Ford vehicles that automatically shut off the engine after 30 minutes of idling when the key fob is not inside. Meanwhile, Toyota vehicles, including Lexus vehicles, were involved in almost half of the deaths caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.
For drivers, there is nothing else to do but to take extra caution, as a keyless car left running is very dangerous.