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Action Urged on Reported Problems With Keyless Ignitions

Casper, Meadows, Schwartz & Cook

As California residents may know, a problem with vehicles that have keyless ignitions that can reportedly lead to injuries and deaths has prompted a U.S. senator to ask that the matter be addressed. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expected to make a final decision on the issue.

According to a lawsuit filed against 10 automakers, the lack of a shut off feature in keyless ignition vehicles is one that automakers have known for a long time. The engines in keyed vehicles shut down when the key is removed. However, keyless vehicles may keep running if the driver neglects to manually shut the engine off. Carbon monoxide poisoning causing injuries and deaths has been attributed to this lack of a safety feature when vehicles have been left in a garage with the motor still running.

In 2011, the NHTSA proposed that keyless ignition vehicles should be equipped with an audible alarm if a vehicle's engine is still running when the occupant exits the vehicle or turns off the motor while it is still in gear. NHTSA performed tests on various 2013 and 2014 keyless models and went public with the results in 2014. The tests revealed that none of the vehicles examined were equipped with the proposed audible alarms of 85 decibels.

Ar least 18 people have died due to carbon monoxide buildup since 2009 in keyless vehicle-related incidents. The safety regulations that the NHTSA is planning on implementing may only apply to new vehicles.

The loss of a loved one in incidents caused by a defective product can leave the surviving family members in a precarious financial position when the decedent was a contributor to household finances. In such an event, it may be advisable to meet with an attorney to discuss the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party.