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Are Push Button Ignitions Dangerous?

Car Accidents

According to an article in the New York Times, more than half of the 17 million vehicles sold annually in the U.S. now have keyless ignitions. 28 people have died and 45 others have suffered carbon monoxide poisoning caused by push button ignitions, also known as keyless ignitions, since 2006. It is difficult to count the exact number of deaths related to carbon monoxide, since no central agency records them.

The primary issue surrounding push button ignitions is that the driver fails to switch the car off or doesn’t realize it’s still running, which leads to deaths caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, and it prevents the heart, brain and other vital organs from getting oxygen.

Particular types of keyless-ignition vehicles, namely hybrids and plug-in hybrids, pose an even deadlier concern because they are virtually silent when in electric mode. Accordingly, some drivers are often unaware that the car is still on when sitting still after parking. 

If a loved one has died due to keyless ignition-related carbon monoxide poisoning, contact a Florida wrongful death attorney at Searcy Denney for help.

About Audible Alerts

There is a relatively simple way of preventing push button ignition-related carbon monoxide poisoning: audible alerts. Some vehicles sound either a quick beep of the horn or an external chime if drivers leave the engine idling and walk away with the electronic fob.

According to Consumer Reports, the following vehicles utilize audio alerts:

  • Ford
  • GM
  • Honda
  • Hyundai
  • Mazda
  • Mitsubishi
  • Nissan
  • Subaru
  • Toyota

The following vehicles do not currently utilize audio alerts:

  • Chrysler
  • Land Rover
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Volkswagen
  • Volvo

It would seem that a regulatory body would step in and require audible alerts, but again according to Consumer Reports, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been aware of this issue for many years, but hasn’t put related rules in place. Although they attempted to do so, some automakers objected, arguing that the proposed sound level was “much too loud” and would be an annoyance.

Other Potential Fixes

Another potential fix is an automatic engine shut-off. If a car is left idling, it would shut down after a specified period and stay off until a person restarts it. However, the NHTSA raised objections to this method, stating “[t]here are scenarios, such as leaving pets in the vehicle with the air conditioning or heating system on while the driver shops or is at a restaurant, where an automatic shut off of the propulsion system would have adverse results.”

As is commonly the case, the best answer may be consumer awareness. If users of push button ignition vehicles are aware of the potential dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, they will make sure their vehicle is actually turned off.

Contact a Florida Wrongful Death Attorney for Your Free Consultation

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer. If you have lost a loved one due to keyless ignition-related carbon monoxide poisoning, contact a Florida wrongful death attorney at Searcy Denney. We offer a free consultation and work on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay nothing until and unless you recover. Contact us online today for help.

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