New vehicles have features that can help improve comfort, but in some cases they can also negatively impact our safety. Keyless ignitions are one feature that have created concern for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) due to a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. In fact, there have been 19 deaths attributed to keyless ignitions and the number continues to rise. Concerns over keyless ignitions have now reached the U.S. Senate, and lawmakers are calling on NHTSA to prevent more deaths.
Vehicles with keyless ignitions use electronic fobs, little pieces of plastic with buttons that turn on cars remotely. Some users may accidently trigger or forget to use the fobs to turn off their cars, which can cause vehicles to run inside of garages for hours on end. Fatalities occur because homes quickly fill with deadly carbon monoxide, an odorless and tasteless gas.
What do keyless ignition deaths look like? An 84-year-old man was found dead in his recliner with a TV remote still in his hand, oblivious to the cruel and unfair fate that awaited him. Families could go to sleep for the night and never wake up again. In one case, a Seattle family of six almost died after a keyless minivan was left running overnight. They were lucky to survive, but if action is not taken by NHTSA, future families may not be as fortunate.
Newer vehicles have features that can help prevent deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning. Some cars now beep if left running for too long and others have automatic shutoff features. However, millions of vehicles without these safety features are still in use, and NHTSA has yet to issue a rule that could fix these dangerous cars.
Why NHTSA Needs to Prevent Future Keyless Ignition Deaths
There is no excuse to not issue rules that would install safety features and prevent additional keyless ignition deaths. Almost 20 people have died at this point and many more are at risk. For people who do not die from carbon monoxide poisoning, they may suffer permanent disabilities from traumatic brain injuries.
Carbon monoxide poisoning from keyless ignitions can be prevented, but only if NHTSA steps in and forces auto manufacturers to make changes that can protect people.