Keyless ignition systems linked to at least two dozen deaths — here’s how to stay safe


Keyless ignition has become standard in the majority of new cars today, but amid the fanfare for state-of-the-art advancements in the auto industry, there can be a dark side that many people don’t know about.

People who own cars with keyless ignition systems have been prone to park and get out of the vehicle while it is still running. This is apparently happening because they either assume that if they have the key, the car must be off or they’re just forgetting to press the off button. In either scenario, the mistake can be deadly, according to a new report.

Keyless ignition systems linked to deaths — here’s how to stay safe

More than two dozen people have been killed by carbon monoxide in keyless ignition-related incidents across the country over the past 12 years, according to the New York Times.

Many more have been hurt, some even left with brain damage, the Times reports. While many vehicles have a series of beeps and other warning signals to let the driver know that the car is still running, there is no uniform standard that automakers must adhere to.

As a result, a voluntary hodge-podge system is leaving motorists, especially older ones, at risk, the Times reports.

In March of this year, Action News Jacksonville detailed the story of a Florida mother who was on a job-related phone call when she pulled into her parents’ garage with her baby in the backseat. “As I came in I wanted the garage door to be closed when the conference call started so I went ahead and pushed the button to close the door,” Constance Petot told Action News Jacksonville. “And I think in my head I just told myself I had pushed this button instead of that button.”

Later that night, her young son woke up crying. It turns out, the 13-month-old, who may have had a headache, his mother says, ended up saving his and other family members’ lives. Carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas, had reached dangerous levels throughout the home.

“Once I got dizzy, I knew I needed to get out of there,” Petot was quoted as saying. “And walked down the stairs, opened the garage door and saw that the taillight was on.”

Resistance from the auto industry, along with relative inaction by safety agencies, has led to scant information being known about keyless tech-related deaths, the article says.

In fact, as the Times article points out: “The exact number of deaths related to carbon monoxide from keyless-ignition vehicles left running is unknown, as no federal agency keeps comprehensive records.”


Still, if you have a key fob, there’s no need to panic or make rash decisions. Here are some ways you can prevent deadly mistakes from happening:

Here’s what you can do to protect yourself

  • If you have a keyless ignition vehicle, keep a carbon monoxide detector near the entrance of your home’s garage door
  • If your home’s carbon monoxide detector (or smoke detector) goes off, immediately head outside or do what you can to open a window so some fresh air can enter. Immediately make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for
  • Call 911 or any local emergency service, like the fire department
  • Don’t assume the home is safe for re-entry until the authorities have told you so

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