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Keyless cars silent killers in California

Keyless cars use a technology that has created many layers of convenience for motorists across the United States and the world. In the United States alone, more than eight and a half million - over 50 percent - of new vehicles sold come standard with keyless ignitions each year. However, the convenience of keyless ignitions has also proved to be deadly for many motorists, especially those who had become accustomed over the years to switching off and removing keys from the vehicles.

According to a recent report and product liability lawsuits that have been filed against several automakers, more than two dozen people have died and many more have become ill or suffered brain damage from carbon monoxide poisoning that occurred when car owners left their keyless vehicles running in garages. Victims believed that they had turned off their engines or that the engine would turn off once the fob was removed from the vehicle. As it turns out, in many models, the engine will run indefinitely - until it is turned off or runs out of gas.

In most instances of fatality and illness, the car was left running in an attached garage and the victims' houses filled with deadly carbon monoxide. Although almost all models have some form of warning alerts in the form of lights and sounds, it has proven to be insufficient warning in many instances. Some automakers, like Ford, began installing kill switches in their keyless models. Such devices turn off an engine that has been idling after 30 minutes if the fob is not inside the vehicle.

However, even though the danger has been known since 2006, many automakers have failed to undertake the safety measures necessary to protect people against the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. This is the case in spite of warnings from engineers within the company and a relatively cheap cost of repair.

Source: New York Times, "Deadly Convenience: Keyless Cars and Their Carbon Monoxide Toll," David Jeans and Majlie De Puy Kamp, May 13, 2018.

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