According to Edmunds.com, an automotive information site launched in 1995, more than 150 2010 model year vehicles offer keyless ignition. Along with the growing trend in keyless ignition, cars are becoming quieter with smoother running engines as technology improves. The combination of quiet engines and keyless ignition is the potential for injury arising from the new car features.
Three deaths involving keyless ignition have brought the issue to light. Drivers have unknowingly left their engines running in attached garages and died of carbon monoxide poisoning as a result. The surviving partner of one of the people who died suffered brain injury as a result of the carbon monoxide.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into the technology behind keyless ignitions. Not only have people died from carbon monoxide poisoning after leaving the engine purring in an attached garage, but other issues have surfaced.
Some people who own cars with the technology have lost power while driving the vehicle. The car is supposed to sense when the fob is nearby. At times, the technology malfunctions and the computer believes the fob is no longer present. The engine stops functioning properly creating a dangerous situation in traffic.
Other owners have complained they can shut the vehicle off when the car is in gear. Traditional key entry cars cannot be shutoff unless the gear shift is in the park position. Difficulties have arisen where cars parked on an incline have rolled off due to the ability to kill the engine when the shift is not in the park position.
The New York woman who suffered brain injury in the carbon monoxide case, a former school superintendant and college professor, has filed a lawsuit against the carmaker as the car should have shut off in the absence of the keyless ignition fob.