Keyless Ignitions: Tougher Safety Rules Needed

We live in an age of convenience.  We have remote controls for TV’s and stereos, online banking, self-cleaning ovens, food delivery, keyless entry for cars – the list just keeps going on. 

Convenience is behind one of the latest automotive technologies, the keyless ignition, which as the name suggests, allows you to start your car’s engine without inserting a key.  Although, this convenience hasn’t hit the mainstream yet, for some who are in the market for a new car, it is a must.  With the keyless ignition system, the car’s system recognizes the presence of the driver’s key fob, the driver pushes a button, depresses the brake pedal and the car starts.  To shut off the engine is just as hassle free, and is accomplished by merely pressing the same start/stop button.

The keyless ignition system contains safeguards to make sure the car doesn’t start on it’s own at wrong times.  To start the engine, the brake pedal must be depressed with the shift lever in park and the key fob in the vehicle.  Each key also contains a chip with an ID code that the car must recognize before it will start as well.

With all these safety features, there is still one area in keyless ignitions that needs to be improved and that is in the area of engine idling.  The American Association for Justice (AAJ) is urging federal regulators to adopt a rule that requires keyless ignition engines in automobiles to shut off after thirty minutes of idling.  According to the AAJ, the proposed rule regarding theft and rollaway protection, which would only require that an audible alert sound after the engine idles for a certain period of time, does not protect against the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.  Gary M. Paul, AAJ President, stated that the “dangers surrounding unknowingly failing to turn off the car engine, combined with the lack of sensory prompts, such as engine noise, in newer vehicles have been proven to be a fatal combination.”

Several deaths have been linked to keyless ignitions.  Drivers have left their car engines running in attached garages for long periods of time, and this has caused carbon monoxide build up which has resulted in the injury and death of several individuals.  According to the AAJ, keyless ignitions increase the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning because they take away the habit to turn a key to shut down the car engine.  With newer cars being quieter than those in the past, the danger of leaving an unattended car running is increased.

Automobile manufacturers need to create a safety feature soon that will alert drivers when they have left their keyless ignition vehicle running or more individuals will be at risk for injury or even death from carbon monoxide poisoning.