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The Dangerous Downside to Keyless Ignitions

Written by Ankin Law Office

Vehicles with keyless ignition systems are linked to dozens of deaths caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Deaths Linked to Keyless Ignitions

Many new cars have keyless ignition systems that provide conveniences for drivers. Wireless key fobs that replace conventional keys allow drivers to lock, unlock, and start their vehicles with the simple push of a button. While drivers say they like the convenience of keyless ignitions, these systems have a dangerous downside – carbon monoxide poisoning.

According to a recent New York Times article, dozens of people have been injured or killed by keyless ignitions. With a wireless key fob, a driver can quickly turn off the vehicle’s engine when exiting the vehicle. The problem is that some vehicles keep running without the driver even realizing it. If the vehicle is parked in an attached garage, the house can fill with carbon monoxide in a matter of hours.

Carbon monoxide is a deadly colorless, odorless gas that can cause serious injuries, as well as death. Personal injury lawyers in Chicago see injury victims with a variety of symptoms including:

  • Weakness and/or dizziness
  • Dull lingering headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Blurred vision
  • Mental confusion
  • Loss of consciousness

Carbon monoxide poisoning is caused by inhaling combustion fumes. When carbon monoxide builds up in the bloodstream, it replaces oxygen in red blood cells. This usually results in serious tissue damage, and sometimes death. Cases seen by lawyers in Chicago that involve fatal poisoning often include people with chronic heart disease, respiratory problems, liver and kidney disease, as well as older adults and young children.

Keyless ignition dangers are under review by automakers who are working to eliminate safety problems. To date, half of carbon monoxide injuries and deaths are linked to Lexus and Toyota models. Toyota uses an audible warning system, but some models do not have automatic shutoff functions that set a timer after the driver unbuckles the seatbelt, opens the driver’s door, and exits the vehicle.

To address keyless ignition safety concerns and prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and SAE International have proposed additional safety standards. Even though keyless ignitions are now standard in more than half of the 17 million new vehicles sold each year in the U.S., NHTSA is requiring additional warnings and automatic shutoff features on all keyless ignitions.

Categories: Personal Injury