Monday, February 7, 2011

Keyless go; the new silent killer...

Photo from NY Daily News

This time around the American consumer is trying to blame keyless start button technology for accidental deaths by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Apparently a few people have died because owners or drivers of  cars with start buttons forgot to turn off their engine after parking in an enclosed garage.

One person died in New York and two in Florida as a result of drivers forgetting to turn off their engine, causing the victims to breathe in poisonous gases overnight.

In the New York case, former college professor Mary Rivera forgot to turn off the engine to her Lexus and this resulted in the death of her partner Ernie Cordelia, a lawyer.

Mary survived but now suffers brain damage. 

Rivera's lawyer, Noah Kushlefsky, says the feature lacks adequate warning and didn't stop Rivera from inadvertently leaving her car running, even though the fob was separated from the car by both distance and time.

"The engine should shut off after a specific period of time of inactivity," Kushlefsky said. "It's a problem that's only going to be magnified as more cars end up on the road with keyless start."

Lexus did not comment on the case but issued this statement;

"Toyota's electronic key system fully complies with applicable federal motor vehicle standards and provides multiple layers of visual and auditory warnings to alert occupants that the vehicle is running when the driver exits with the key fob. Electronic key systems such as Toyota's are neither new nor unique within the automobile industry."
According to, electronic key systems are featured on more than 150 2010 model year vehicles.

Comment: We have driven many cars with keyless starting and in all cases the cars provide loud audible warning that can be heard inside and outside of the car the moment the key fob is undetectable by the sensors in the car, which are usually placed in the driver seat.

This case certainly highlights hot things can go horribly wrong even if a particular technology seems harmless and causes no harm or injury to 99.9% of its users

So we ask you to comment on whether keyless start really is a silent killer and should there be a standard set of audible and visual warning to remind drivers if they have not turned off the car's engine.

Original story in NY Daily News and NBC NY Local Channel 41 WMGT via Autoblog

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