Hundreds of new car models come with keyless ignition systems, a convenient feature that uses an electronic key fob – not a metal key — and lets you turn on the engine with the push of a button.
Keyless ignitions linked to deaths, injuries
But some drivers who have this technology in their cars are making a critical mistake, and people are dying because of it. The issue? They’re forgetting to press the button to turn the car off.
This has been especially dangerous when drivers leave the car running in a garage, increasing the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. The colorless, odorless gas can then seep into your home without you realizing it.
The child safety organization KidsAndCars.org tells Clark.com that at least 21 people have died from this very issue.
These are the lucky ones
A family of six in Washington state could have been part of that statistic, but they survived.
While rushing to get his sick child inside the house, KOMO-TV reports a father removed the key fob from his van, but he left the vehicle running. Rescuers found potentially deadly levels of carbon monoxide in their home.
His entire family – including his wife, parents and two children – were rushed to the hospital to be treated for carbon monoxide poisoning.
The same thing happened to Constance Petot and her 13-month-old son.
Distracted by a conference call, the busy mother pulled in to the garage of her parents’ Florida home and made a crucial mistake.
‘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,’ Petot told WSB-TV. ‘And I think in my head I just told myself I had pushed this button instead of that button.’
When her son woke up screaming later that night, she knew something was wrong, and she later went into the garage and realized what happened.
Petot told WSB-TV that the level of carbon monoxide at the time could have killed them within about 20 minutes.
What’s the solution?
Safety advocates want car manufacturers to have vehicles automatically turn off after a period of time.
Currently, many vehicles with keyless ignition systems already have some sort of audible warning if you leave your car running, according to Consumer Reports.
Brands with audible alerts include:
Brands with no audible warning include:
- Land Rover
Follow these safety tips
This safety issue has been on the government’s radar since at least 2011. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration made a video to educate drivers about the dangers of the keyless feature.
Here are some tips to keep you and your family safe:
- Read your owner’s manual to understand how the key fob works.
- Pay attention to any alert signals while in your car.
- Remember to put your car in park.
- Always apply the parking brake.
- Never get out of the car while the engine is running.
- Don’t leave your key fob in the vehicle.
As we learned from the people who survived carbon monoxide poisoning, it’s also a good idea to install a carbon monoxide detector if you don’t have one already.
Remember to check or replace the batteries when you change the time on the clocks.
Read more: 6 most reliable SUVs on the road