Since the mid-1990’s, a dangerous automobile feature has continued to roll off the market- the keyless ignition. Hundreds of thousands of vehicles with push-starts are sold every year, offered as a standard option in 245 models and counting.
The intention of the keyless car was to provide a convenient alternative to your typical turn-key start. Using a key-fob in place of a key, this device sends a signal to your vehicle that you are ready to drive without having to hold it. But instead of worrying about keys, drivers are now worried about relying on their memory to save their lives and the lives of their loved ones.
Since keyless ignitions have increased in popularity, horrifying reports are emerging of fatalities and serious illnesses caused by a known defect in the keyless design- there is no automatic shut-off feature when forgetting to turn off your car.
In 2009, a New York professor parked her newly purchased Lexus inside her closed garage. Without realizing, the professor left her car running as she exited the vehicle with her key-fob. Tragically, carbon monoxide from the running car leaked into the professors home throughout the night. The professor suffered permanent brain damage from the poisonous gas and regretfully lost her spouse who died in his sleep.
More recently in 2015, a similar occurrence took place in Seattle affecting a family of six. The father reported arriving home and forgetting to turn off his car upon entering the house. The vehicle ran in the closed garage all night, quickly releasing carbon monoxide into the home. Thankfully, the families car ran out of fuel and stopped. All six family members were rushed to the hospital for treatment the next day by emergency services. Had the car not run out of gas, this story could have been detrimental for the members of this family.
There have been 19 fatalities officially reported directly connected to push-start vehicle incidents, as well as 25 close-calls since 2009. Why is a device claiming ‘convenience’ causing fatalities? Let’s take a look:
It’s not required to have the key-fob in your hand when turning off a keyless car.
The act of turning a key when exiting your car is a habit programmed into multiple generations of drivers since 1916. Changing the way you operate a vehicle after decades of practice is not an effortless undertaking. Experienced drivers can easily park their car, exit the vehicle, without thinking twice about pressing a ‘stop’ button.
Push start vehicles don’t require you to place them in park before turning off the vehicle.
A driver can put their foot on the break, press the ‘stop’ button, and exit the car without ever changing gears to park! This scary feature has caused cars to roll away unattended, causing unnecessary pedestrian injury and damage to property.
Keyless cars will continue to run, even when the key-fob is out of range of the vehicle.
The only way your keyless car will shut off without physically pushing the ‘stop’ button is to run out of gas. There is no safe range in which a vehicle will shut off itself if the key-fob is undetected.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Sadly, no recent changes have been implemented in the push-start design to include an automatic shut-off or effective alarm for skipping shut down procedures. But following these three steps religiously when operating your keyless vehicle will help you to decrease the chance of injuring yourself or others:
- Always put your car in park before pushing ‘stop.’
- Hold your ‘start/stop’ button until you’re positive the engine is off.
- Apply the parking break before exiting the car to reduce the risk of rolling.
We can hope for the best that car manufacturers will start implementing more safety features in their keyless software soon. Until then, drivers of these types of vehicles must be extra careful. Double and triple check you have followed the proper exiting procedure for your car and set reminders for yourself if it helps.
If you or a loved one have experienced an incident with a push-start vehicle that resulted in illness, injury, or death, you could be entitled to compensation. Contact Siler & Ingber at 1-877-718-6079 to speak to one of our attorneys from our winning legal team.