Keyless Ignition Systems Have Caused At Least 28 Deaths As Owners Forget To Shut Off Their Engines

Keyless ignition systems are becoming increasingly popular as they allow consumers to enter their vehicle and start the ignition without ever having to take their keys out. These systems are convenient but they could prove tragic in certain circumstances.

As the New York Times reports, at least 28 people have been killed in the United States by carbon monoxide emitted by vehicles with a keyless ignition. At least 45 others have been injured and some of them have been left with brain damage.

The report notes keyless ignition systems are now standard on nearly half of all new vehicles sold in the United States and this poses an increasing risk as some drivers forget to shut off their engine when they park in their garage. Given how quite new engines can be, some owners simply park their car, go into their house and don’t even notice their vehicle is still running. If this happens for an extended period of time, they could eventually succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Despite a growing number of fatalities, most automakers haven’t introduced safety systems which could prevent a deadly buildup of carbon monoxide. As the newspaper notes, the Society of Automotive Engineers has previously called for keyless ignition systems to alert vehicles owners when their car is still running but the keys aren’t in the vehicle or nearby.

Changes could be coming as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed a new regulation which would require vehicles to warn owners when the ignition hasn’t been shut off. However, many automakers are opposed to the new regulation and it hasn’t gained much traction.

The news isn’t all bad as newer Ford models will automatically shut off the engine if the car has been idling for 30 minutes and the key fob isn’t inside the vehicle. Unfortunately, a number of automakers aren’t following suit even though estimates suggest adding new safety features would cost less than $500,000 a year.

  • Dr Strangefingger

    Perhaps automotive technology is leaping ahead of functionality… and we went self driving cars???

    • Status

      People said the same thing about technology is leaping ahead of functionality when the car first challenged the supremacy of the horse.

      • Dr Strangefingger

        Really, were you there????

        • Status

          Do you always upvote your own comments?

          I don’t know how you could possibly read into that last comment into thinking I have a time machine.

          • Auf Wiedersehen

            Why not if he agrees with himself?

        • Six_Tymes

          HA! good one!

      • Iberian Rekluse

        Wow Status, what else did you hear people say in 1890?

        • Status

          Well lets find out!

          “On October 14, 1899, Literary Digest commented on the new automobiles: “The ordinary horseless carriage is at present a luxury for the wealthy; and although its price will probably fall in the future, it will never, of course, come into as common use as the bicycle.”

          Source: http://www.umtri.umich.edu/content/rr34_4.pdf

          I bet you didn’t know you could read things that were written by people that were long dead, even if those things they said/wrote were completely wrong!

          • Marty

            Funny thing how people that use written word to communicate need to be educated in how written word works.

            (I now predict an answer akin to “Your a moran! Their was no internet in 1885!!!!”)

          • Status

            I actually thought they’d go one step further and say “dead people from 1885 can’t talk!”

  • Astonman

    How many people have died because the forgot to twist the key to the off position?

  • xDRAN0x

    I hate to admit it but I did forget once, but I was still in P.

  • Kash

    Okay, some people are just stupid, and? If you can’t remember to turn your car off maybe you shouldn’t be driving, or really be out in the world unsupervised.

    also, third paragraph: quiet, not quite.

    • MultiKdizzle

      What’s the point of this comment in particular? That stupidity deserves death?

      • Kash

        same thing as yours; to win worthless internet points in an attempt to prove our superiority over strangers we don’t know to other strangers we really don’t know who are trying to do the same thing. It’s also just that, a comment, my opinion on the matter at hand just like everyone else’s on-topic comment.

      • ChrisInIL

        Straw men don’t drive cars.

      • Stephen G

        i think the point is being careless and doing stupid things can result in death or worse.

  • Vern Suesse

    I always liked the one where the husband drops off his wife on the way to work but she has the fob in here purse.
    Alas he can get back from work…
    Keys please!

    • Enter Ranting

      I know people this has happened to.

  • jaguarjaonzz

    I Wanna know how old was those “people”…

  • OIST AV

    In today’s day and age this should be easily solved by an auto-off timer. Heck you can get fancy with GPS, and all kinds of other sensors..

    • Dubble Bubble

      That is the first thing that came to my mind, the start/stop technology that many vehicles already have would shut down the engine by default.

  • Jason Miller

    I don’t know about any other cars, but my Elantra beeps at me ungodly loud if I get out and shut the door with my key in my pocket. And yes, cars are quiet. BUT, they are not that quiet. Especially in a garage.

    • Bash

      Exactly.

    • Dubble Bubble

      I have a wife that does that.

  • TheBelltower

    “Unfortunately, a number of automakers aren’t following suit even though estimates suggest adding new safety features would cost less than $500,000 a year.”

    Why would it cost anything? Engine stop/start technology exists. Just have the engine stop if the car has been idling for fifteen minutes with no one in the seat.

    • Sébastien

      Even less than 15mn, I’d say make itit foll the same logic as when in traffic with stop/start engaged.

  • S3XY

    I’ve never not forgotten to turn off my Volt. And it’s silent.

    • Auf Wiedersehen

      Oh YOU’RE the guy who bought one?

  • I think this is a case of human stupidity. There are loads of various warning systems which 99% of all manufacturers have to prevent these situations. This is like the argument over FCA’s gearboxes where owners weren’t checking to see if they left the car in park properly, and just guessing it.

  • Mr_Fanta_Pants

    Natural selection.

  • Auf Wiedersehen

    Just wait till the majority of cars are EVs? They are so quiet it will even be easier to forget to turn them off. It will be a global epidemic.

  • Infinite1

    Most cars will beep at you if the engine’s still running and it detects that the key fob is now out of the car. Most people nowadays are too stupid to pay attention, have a short attention span so when you add cell phones and social media into the mix, that’s just a case for disaster. Should stupid people die? No, sometimes things are part of natural selection.

  • Dubble Bubble

    stupid americans – my girldfriend
    ————
    precious.

  • Enter Ranting

    It’s “my girlfriend and I,” not “me.” If you’re going to call an entire country of people stupid, at least use decent grammar. And spell girlfriend correctly. Where are you from, genius?

  • Enter Ranting

    Pushbutton ignition is a pointless gimmick that doesn’t solve any problems, but creates several. It’s just another example of lazy design being marketed as high tech. Is twisting a key such an unbearable burden?

    • Mark Seven-Ultranine

      Chrysler 1956 transmission selector. Push button. No problems. Push button ignition works absolutely fine on my Corvettes. Let’s not blame technology for human stupidity. Or would you rather use a key to change a channel on your TV remote?

      • Enter Ranting

        You’re equating a car with a TV remote? When has anyone ever used a key in a remote control? If anything, using an on/off button for a car’s engine makes a car seem more like an appliance. And if the 1956 Chrysler push button transmission was such a flawless piece of technology, instead of a gimmick, why didn’t it become the standard?

        • Status

          All cars are appliances. Where have you been for the last 120 years?

          • Enter Ranting

            Some of us think of cars as more than appliances. But you’re entitled to your opinion. May I suggest you move on to the toaster oven blog?

          • Status

            I leave you with a bit of advice. If it came from the mind of an industrial designer and it becomes a mass produced commodity, then it’s just a consumer product.

            What? Are you going to launch into poetics and platitudes trying to convince the world that “a car has a soul” and that it’s not a mass produced consumer product? Because if you can convince yourself that, then you can equally convince yourself that a measly iPhone has a soul as well.

          • Enter Ranting

            How profound. Thanks for your insight, professor. But I have a feeling you’re not really leaving…

        • Mark Seven-Ultranine

          No, I’m not equating a car with a remote. I’m simply saying that pushbuttons are not a fundamental problem. Keys have their own set of problems. The Chrysler concept did not catch on with the public back in the 50’s. Fins disappeared, too, remember? The real issue here is if people are forgetting to turn off their car, a key or a button is not the problem.

          • Enter Ranting

            You directly related a car to a TV remote.

            What happens when the husband drops his wife off at work, and she leaves with the car key in her purse, and the husband who has forgotten his key drives across town and shuts of the car? This scenario can’t happen if you use a key to start the car. The button is a problem. I know, it’s the husband’s fault, right? Also, replacement transponder keys are very expensive to replace. A regular key is a couple of bucks. Push button start is a solution in search of a problem.

  • Mark Seven-Ultranine

    Forgot to turn the car off, huh? Also known as “weeding out the gene pool.”

  • John S.

    The keyless ignition systems did not cause the deaths. I am 73 and have driving these vehicles since 2013. I have never forgotten to shut the car(s) off. The problem, people no longer are attentive to what they are actually doing. See texting and making phone calls while driving. I have seen people backing out of there garage with the phone stuck to their ear, or looking down at the screen, while backing from the garage to the street, without looking or slowing down. I “presume” an investigation was conducted into each of these deaths. Why no information in the article as to what the driver was doing at the time of the incident/death? People are responsible not technology.

  • Stephen G

    This is just another one of those frivolous things that automakers soak the consumer for that has zero value.

    • Enter Ranting

      Totally agree – they tout it as a high-tech feature, and it’s a pointless gimmick. But they all have to have it. Nobody is thinking for themselves.

  • Mark Seven-Ultranine

    You’re right. My comment was insensitive. My apologies if I offended you or anyone else. According to the National Safety Council, over a million injuries occur each year as a result of stairway falls. Each year there are 12,000 stairway accident deaths. No button or key involved. Just wondering where the outrage is for those poor folks. Or the design changes.

    • Enter Ranting

      Wow, you’re really fond of the false equivalency. OK, then, by the same token, anyone dumb enough to be caught in an earthquake, or be in a plane that crashes, or gets crushed by a falling piano also deserves to die, along with anyone who doesn’t see the cat sleeping on the basement stairs while they’re carrying a box of Christmas ornaments. It’s an outrage! But you’re safe, because you never make any missteps. Lucky you.

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