Keyless Ignitions Lead to Carbon Monoxide Deaths
Keyless ignitions offer drivers the convenience of not having to pull their keys out of their pocket or handbag. Instead, as long as a key fob is in or near the vehicle, the car will start with just the push of a button. Many consumers appreciate the technology, but a report conducted by the New York Times indicates there is a severe and sometimes deadly downside to this technology. Since keyless ignitions became an option for drivers in 2006, 28 people have reportedly died because of carbon monoxide poisoning that was the result of cars remaining on and exposing people to the toxic gas, carbon monoxide.
Why are keyless ignitions deadly?
The convenience of keyless ignitions is that you do not have to fish your keys from the bottom of your handbag when you get to your car. There is less of a chance of losing your keys or dropping them. Simply carry the bag into the car and push the ignition button and your vehicle is ready to go. The problem with the feature occurs when a person parks their car and gets out of the car. Because it is not necessary to have the keys in the ignition, the driver’s keys are already in their pocket or bag, and there is no need to take that extra step of removing the key. Many drivers therefore entirely forget to turn off their vehicles.
In many cases, the car might be in a driveway, parking lot, or parked on the street. In these cases, the fact that the vehicle continues to run is problematic. In a garage, the fact that the car continues to run can be deadly.
Carbon monoxide poisoning
Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that does not have any color or odor. When this gas builds up inside a structure, it can silently poison and kill anyone inside. Cars and trucks release carbon monoxide, but so do other devices including stoves, fireplaces, and furnaces.
People exposed to carbon monoxide may develop some symptoms, including a headache, vomiting, stomach pain, chest pain, confusion, dizziness, and weakness. When people are exposed while sleeping, they can die before even having any symptoms.
About 400 people are killed by carbon monoxide poisoning every year in the United States. One of the causes of carbon monoxide poisoning is a car that is left running in an attached garage. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that people do not leave cars running in attached garages, even if the garage door is open.
What are the government and the auto industry doing to protect consumers from keyless ignition related poisonings?
Some acknowledged the problem caused by keyless ignition technology in the auto industry years ago. The Society of Automotive Engineers, a group which sets standards for the auto industry, suggested seven years ago that the car manufacturers should be required to meet specific safety standards related to keyless ignitions, including an alarm that would let drivers know when they had failed to turn the engine off.
The proposal made by the Society of Automotive Engineers led to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposing that such a rule should be enacted. However, after opposition from the auto industry, the agency backed down, and the rule was never implemented. While NHTSA did investigate the issue in 2013, the investigation came to a quick close without any conclusion being drawn.
Since then, some car manufacturers have taken steps to make their vehicles safer, by adding alarms or having the cars automatically turn off if left running after the fob has been taken out of the vehicle. However, there is still no requirement that car manufacturers include any of these safety standards.
According to the report, close to half of all the deaths involved a Toyota or Lexus and lawsuits have been filed.
A class action lawsuit was filed in 2015 over the carbon monoxide poisonings related to keyless ignitions. Car manufacturers including Toyota, Honda, Fiat Chrysler, and General Motors were all sued. At the point in time when the lawsuit was initiated, 13 people had been killed in accidents resulting from the keyless ignition systems. The time’s report indicates that the number of people killed has more than doubled since the lawsuit was filed.
In addition to people being killed by carbon monoxide poisoning, others have been made ill or suffered injuries because of this technology. The NYT report indicates that 45 people have reported injuries. The impact of carbon monoxide poisoning on a person’s health can be long term.
Even though the problem was well documented, and that people continue to die and suffer injuries because of the known problems with keyless ignitions, the car industry still is not required to include safety features.
Are Keyless Ignitions a Defective Product?
When companies manufacture faulty products, they are liable for the harm done to consumers as a result of those defects. At Parker Waichman LLP, we feel that keyless ignition systems are dangerous and that the car industry has a responsibility to make their products reasonably safe for consumers.
Products can be defective because of design flaws, manufacturing defects, or because the manufacturer fails to warn consumers about how to use the product correctly. In any of these cases, the manufacturer can be required to compensate people for the injuries that they suffered as a result of the defective product.
Parker Waichman LLP has been representing plaintiffs in product liability lawsuits for decades. Our experienced team of litigators knows what is at stake for our clients who have suffered injuries and lost loved ones because companies chose to cut corners and put money ahead of people’s safety. To date, we have recovered more than $2 billion in settlements and verdicts for our clients.
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If a loved one was killed due to carbon monoxide poisoning, contact Parker Waichman LLP today at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529) for a free consultation with one of our experienced keyless ignition carbon monoxide poisoning attorneys.
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