Keyless Ignitions: “Deadly” Design Flaw or User Error?
Plaintiffs Sue Manufacturers for Lack of Auto Shut-Off
A group of plaintiffs filed a class-action suit in Los Angeles federal court against 10 automakers on the assertion that the automakers knew of the dangers of keyless ignitions and failed to incorporate the necessary safety features to prevent potential carbon monoxide poisoning, according to Reuters. According to the suit, there have been 13 deaths associated with carbon monoxide poisoning in vehicles equipped with keyless ignitions. An estimated 5 million vehicles currently on the road are equipped with keyless ignitions, and the feature that was initially only available on high-end luxury models is now offered in many mainstream models.
All models equipped with keyless ignition give some audible warning when the driver walks away from the vehicle with the engine still running, usually a brief horn or alarm beep. However, none of the systems currently have any sort of automatic engine shut-off after a set time, a safety feature the plaintiffs in the suit are reportedly seeking to make a regulatory mandate. The suit alleges the automakers had knowledge of the potential dangers of keyless ignitions as far back as 2003 and that General Motors and Ford had patented automatic shut-off functions for keyless ignitions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received 27 complaints since 2009 about engines not shutting off after exiting the vehicle.
We believe this isn’t so much a design flaw but rather ignorance on part of consumers and possibly inadequate briefing by dealers in the delivery process for those unfamiliar with keyless ignition systems. What do you think? Should an automatic engine shut-off be mandated or should consumers make themselves more familiar with the functionality of their vehicles?