Potential Fatal Flaw Associated with Some Keyless Entry Systems
Vehicle manufacturers are constantly looking to create new features that make them more appealing to consumers. While many motorists flock to innovations like keyless ignition systems, these features, which offer convenience or novelty, often come at a significant price in terms of occupant safety. Many consumers have purchased vehicles with keyless ignition systems that allow the vehicle to be turned off by pushing a button on a fob. Our Fulton County Car Accident Lawyers recently discussed a report from NBC News that highlights the inherent danger associated with some keyless ignition systems.
According to the report, keyless ignition systems have been responsible for 19 fatalities and 25 additional close calls since 2009. When a driver parks a vehicle that does not require physically turning off the ignition with a key, the motorist can forget to push the button to power down the vehicle. If the motorist's home has an attached garage, members of the household can be placed at risk by carbon monoxide that builds up in the garage and seeps into the home.
As the number of vehicles that incorporate keyless ignition systems increases, carbon monoxide poisoning will affect a growing number of vehicle owners. The Edmunds.com website reports that keyless ignition systems were a standard feature in 245 vehicle models and an option in 31 more as of early January 2016.
A personal injury lawyer explained that "although these types of carbon monoxide deaths are preventable, we are going to see a growing number of fatalities and near misses as manufacturers sell more vehicles with keyless ignition systems."
Lawsuits have been filed by law firms alleging that standard keyless ignition systems have a defective design. An electronic "key fob" that remains in the motorist's purse or pocket is used to start the engine of these new keyless vehicles. The vehicle engine cannot be turned on unless the car detects that the fob is within the passenger compartment. The defect associated with this keyless system is that the engine continues to run even if the fob is no longer within the vehicle. This problem can lead to drivers parking their car in the garage and leaving the engine running because the fob button is not pressed. As carbon monoxide accumulates in the garage, the odorless and tasteless gas can present life-threatening dangers to occupants of the home.
The danger associated with keyless ignition systems increases when used in vehicles with quiet engines. Since vehicles such as hybrids operate with an engine that makes virtually no noise to alert a driver that the engine is still running, the risk of forgetting to press the fob button increases. In fact, a Toyota Prius hybrid has been implicated in at least one of the keyless ignition carbon monoxide fatalities.
Some vehicle manufacturers have modified their systems to include "auto-off" features in new models to eliminate the problem, but most automakers have not taken steps to retrofit vehicles already sold without this safety feature. However, General Motors (GM) recently recalled older models of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid to make changes to address the hazard, according to a CNN Report. Newer Volts reportedly include software that automatically turns off the engine a short time after the fob leaves the vehicle.
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