A WPTV news report says Palm Beach County in Florida is leading the country when it comes to deaths linked to keyless cars. According to the report since 2009, five of the nation’s 14 reported keyless car deaths occurred in Palm Beach County. Among those who died was 29-year-old Chastity Glisson. She and her boyfriend, Tim Maddock, were poisoned by carbon monoxide after Glisson accidentally left her keyless Lexus running in her garage. Adele Ridless and Mort Victor of Boca Raton also lost their lives in similar fashion in 2012.
The Danger of Keyless Cars
Keyless cars are vehicles that allow drivers to start and stop their engines with the push of a button. But there is nothing in place to turn the car off or even alert the driver that they forgot to turn the ignition off. Safety advocates have called for fail-safe mechanisms which automatically shut the vehicle down if its been idling for 30 seconds or more. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has said they’ve been looking into new standards for these types of vehicles.
But so far, there have been no new standards. Car manufacturers are not responding to some of the safeguards that have been proposed. But victims and their families are still pressing for change before another keyless car death makes news. NHTSA is proposing audible warnings in keyless cars to alert drivers who leave their cars running.
In August, a consumer class action lawsuit was filed in California against 10 of the world’s largest automakers on behalf of millions of Americans who own or lease vehicles equipped with keyless ignitions. The lawsuit alleges the automakers have known for years about increased dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning when people mistakenly leave their keyless ignition vehicles running after they’ve left the car, taking their key fobs with them.
It is indeed deeply disturbing that millions of Americans are driving vehicles that have such a dangerous defect in them. It wouldn’t cost these automakers very much to add some type of alert to warn drivers if they’ve left their ignitions on. However, automakers have been notorious for putting profit before people. As California auto defect lawyers, we urge NHTSA to come up with standards that will protect consumers and give automakers an incentive to make their keyless cars safer.