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A Closer Look at the Safety of Keyless Ignitions

If you’ve taken a look at some of the latest car designs, you’ve probably noticed that many new cars are equipped with what’s known as a “keyless ignition.” So, how does it work? Instead of inserting a key into the ignition to start it as we’ve done in the past, drivers with certain newer model cars can now simply push a button to start the vehicle. But as most Denver automobile accident lawyers know, what may seem to be a hi-tech advantage for many vehicle owners can also lead to a number of problems.

In fact, with respect to keyless ignitions, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) actually issued a proposed rule back in 2011 that would require all vehicles that are equipped with keyless ignitions to have alarm systems as well. The Administration made the proposal after noting a number of safety issues related to keyless ignitions — most notably that many individuals had been hurt or even killed because the engines remained running after drivers parked them in garages, which in turn caused carbon monoxide to get into their homes. But why is the rule still in the “proposal” phase?

Examining the Issue

All across the country, there have been several near-deaths and deaths stemming from the use of keyless ignitions. For instance, several years ago in North Carolina, a gentleman left his Nissan Murano running in his garage all night, not knowing that he had not turned off the ignition. Fortunately, in that instance, those in the home, as well as the police officers who arrived at the home, survived.

Sadly, not everyone has been as fortunate. According to the Palm Beach Post, Palm Beach County, Florida has seen the largest number of keyless ignition-related deaths in the country. A Florida senator wants the NHTSA to help in the effort to prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future, noting that the proposed rules have been “sitting idle for far too long.”

Keeping Safety First

Nissan has introduced a new “intelligent” key that actually makes a sound or an audible alert that advises drivers who are exiting and leaving the vehicle that they’re leaving the vehicle’s ignition running while the intelligent key is in their possession. Still, there have been other suggestions made to keep motorists safe, such as creating a system that will automatically turn the engine off once the keyless fob leaves the immediate area.

Sounds like a simple fix, right? Nissan has noted that such audible alerts would cost around $5 for an in-vehicle alert and $30 for an outer-vehicle alert. However, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents a number of automakers like BMW, GM, Mercedes, Jaguar and Chrysler, has stated that, while auto safety remains a top concern, the NHTSA has not provided “adequate justification” to require car makers to include audible alerts.

However, consumer advocacy group, Center for Auto Safety, notes that keyless ignitions are problematic because most drivers are already of the mindset that when they take a key out of the ignition, the car is off.  However, that is clearly not the case with the keyless systems.

If you or someone you love has been injured in an automobile accident, or if you have lost a family member due to an issue related to keyless ignitions, contact Levine Law right away to learn how we can help you get the justice you deserve.

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