After a number of deaths and injuries as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning and rollaways involving vehicles with keyless ignitions, advocates and victims’ families are demanding more stringent safety standards for automakers. According to a WPRI news report, at least 34 people have died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning because they left the ignition on without knowing it. Safety advocates say the problem is with the marketing as well. Automakers tell consumers the fob is the key. But, it doesn’t in any way act like a key because it doesn’t shut the car down
A Serious Issue
This coupled with the fact that car engines are much quieter now makes it easy for people to make the mistake of thinking that their car engines are off when they are actually still on. Keyless cars are also prone to rollaway accidents because some can be turned off without putting the car in park position. One mistake can cause you to end up in a situation where the car begins to roll as you step outside the vehicle.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2011 acknowledged the safety concerns. However, here we are eight years later, and no rules have changed. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal has proposed a bill titled Protecting Americans from the Risks of Keyless Ignition Technology Act or PARK IT Act, which aimed to address both the carbon monoxide and rollaway risks.
Congress Must Act Now
If this bill becomes law, NHTSA would have to mandate automatic shutoffs and locking features that would engage if someone tried to get out of a keyless car that wasn’t in park. Eventually, everyone agrees that it’s going to take an act of Congress to force NHTSA to do its job. Some automakers do have keyless ignition safety features in their vehicles such as new Ford vehicles, which will shut off in 30 minutes if they are accidentally left idling. Many cars also making beeping or chiming noises if a driver walks way with the fob while the vehicle is still running.
As auto defect lawyers who represent victims and families that have suffered losses due to dangerous or defective vehicles, we would like to see the PARK IT Act passed as soon as possible so tragic deaths and injuries can be prevented. This is a simple solution to the problem, and Congress should act expeditiously.