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Keyless ignition: convenient, but dangerous?

Keyless ignition cars are becoming more popular. Cars in nearly every category and price range have keyless ignition either standard or optional. Drivers like the convenience of not needing a key to turn the vehicle on or off.

Yet a design defect in many these cars poses a safety risk. Many models do not have an automatic shutoff feature if a driver forgets to turn off the vehicle. Some do not even warn drivers that the vehicle is still running. Considering that cars are quieter than ever before, this is a large concern for many safety advocates.

Keyless ignition has led to mounting injuries and fatalities for individuals and families who accidentally leave the vehicle running in the garage. In just 15 minutes, an idling vehicle can increase the carbon monoxide levels in a garage to 50 parts per million, which is extremely dangerous. A vehicle left on overnight in an attached garage can lead to poisonous levels of carbon monoxide throughout the home.

The defect has a fairly straightforward fix: an automatic shutoff feature. Yet few models offer this safety technology standard.

Federal regulations slow in coming

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration issued a proposed rule regarding mandatory keyless ignition warning systems in 2011. As of 2016, that rule is still not official. The NHTSA recently issued a statement saying that keyless ignition vehicles pose "a clear safety hazard."

The NHTSA still has not ruled out issuing a rule regarding mandatory safety features for keyless ignition. 

Lawsuits pending

Several lawsuits have been filed against automakers for the design defects associated with keyless ignition vehicles.

Hopefully, automakers will soon guard against the safety risks posed by keyless ignition vehicles by having automatic shutoff features standard in all models.

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