Keyless ignition is one of the popular features of many new car models. It allows car owners to carry around a sensor, called a fob, small enough to fit on a key chain. Once the fob is within range of the vehicle, the driver can simply push a button to start the engine. It seems like an innovative and innocent new feature, but it actually carries a serious safety risk.
NBC’s Today Show reports that some drivers are accidentally leaving their car engines running as they exit the vehicles. This is extremely dangerous, especially when the car is parked in a garage connected to the home, because cars emit carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and highly toxic gas. Exposure for just a few hours can cause significant brain damage, or even death. According to the NBC report, at least three deaths have been linked to carbon monoxide poisoning from keyless ignition vehicles.
One such incident occurred in 2009 when an elderly woman in New York accidentally left her keyless ignition Lexus running overnight in her garage. The New York Daily News reports carbon monoxide flooded the home killing her partner and causing the woman significant brain damage. Confined now to a walker, she has filed a lawsuit against Toyota, the parent company of Lexus.
Compounding the problem, experts say, is that newer engines are much quieter in idle than older models. It is much harder for drivers to hear that the engine is still running after they park.
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