Keyless ignitions represent an innovative – and popular – advancement in automobile features. The “shelf life” of car keys is quickly expiring. Keyless ignitions are now standard in 245 automobile models and optional in 31 others, according to one automotive website. Yet, keyless ignitions pose an unintended – and fatal – danger to consumers.
In cars that utilize a keyless, push-button ignition, an electronic key fob is recognized by the vehicle to enable driving and start the vehicle. While the convenience of this feature may be obvious, its danger is not.
Danger arises when drivers inadvertently leave the car running when exiting the vehicle, which unfortunately is an extremely easy mistake to make. Traditionally, drivers could only remove the metal key from the ignition once the vehicle had been placed in park and the key had been turned to the “off” position. With keyless ignition vehicles, the driver is able to exit with the fob, which many drivers mistakenly associate with a traditional key, and inadvertently leave the engine idling. The fob is used to start the vehicle, but does not play the same role in turning it off, a reality many consumers do not recognize. The result of this common practice creates an extreme danger. The engine will stay idle until it runs out of fuel.
This has resulted in more than a dozen carbon-monoxide deaths linked to keyless ignitions, and countless other close calls. Some vehicles using this feature try to warn drivers that he or she has left the car running with an external chime or horn chirp, to varying degrees of success. Other cars have no safety or warning feature at all, including Chryslers, Land Rovers, Volvos, Volkswagens, and Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been aware of this danger for some time, no rules or regulations governing the danger of keyless ignitions have been passed.
While society should readily embrace technological innovations that make our lives more convenient, we should also recognize the unfortunate reality that corporations designing, manufacturing, marketing, or selling these products seldom prioritize consumer health and safety. The attorneys at Swartz & Lynch have decades of experience in holding businesses and corporations legally and financially accountable for products that pose unreasonable risks to consumers. If you think you have been the victim of negligence or of a defective product, do not hesitate to contact one of the experienced attorneys at Swartz & Lynch LLP. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.