In the future, we’ll all sit around the simulated fireplace (carbon emissions of any kind are banned) and talk about the dark days of the past when people had to actually turn a key to start their car, much less actually drive the blasted thing. Keyless ignition switches are becoming a standard feature on many vehicles due to their ease of use, convenience, and the fact that there are (arguably) less moving parts to break. However, a new report published by the New York Times has found that those keyless ignitions come with a high death toll. It turns out that dozens of people have been killed by keyless ignition switches in the last decade. How could such a harmless feature be deadly?
Because it turns out a lot of people forget to turn their vehicles off with these ignitions. Since the electronic key fobs don’t need to be removed from the car, it’s presumably easier to forget that the car is still running. “After 75 years of driving, my father thought that when he took the key with him when he left the car, the car would be off,” says Doug Schaub, who lost his father Fred last year when Mr. Schaub left his Toyota RAV4 running in the garage attached to his home. Schaub, like dozens of others, forgot his vehicle’s engine was still running and ended up flooding his house with deadly carbon monoxide.
Safety groups like the The Society of Automotive Engineers are now pushing for regulations requiring warning signals to notify drivers if engines are left on. Some automakers already include such warning features, but there are currently no federal regulations for their implementation and security features vary model to model.
According to the New York Times, 28 people have died and 45 others have suffered injuries due to carbon monoxide poisoning caused by keyless ignition systems since 2006. How many deaths will it take for the auto industry to take this problem seriously?