The push button in your car that starts the engine instead of turning a key is called a keyless ignition. It’s become a standard feature on many new vehicles in the recent years. If you walk away with the fob and forget to turn off the car, consumer safety advocates say, keyless ignitions could pose a danger.
Noah Kushlefsky is an attorney who has represented several families whose loved ones have died from carbon monoxide poisoning after the key fob was removed and the car was left running. Kushlefsky explains: "When you're disassociated from the car by removal of the mechanical key, it's an easy step to forget". "It's a senseless situation that should never occur and should never have occurred."
Most keyless ignitions allow drivers to walk away from their car with their key fob and leave the motor running. There are an estimated 5 million keyless cars like this on the road, according to a lawsuit against 10 automakers filed in August in a Los Angeles, California Federal Court, which critics say could put your family at risk.
In June 2015 Cesare Fontanini, 50, of Highland Park, Illinois stopped by his parents’ house to have an espresso and found both his parents, Rina, 76, and Pasquale, 79, dead after they accidentally left their car running in their attached garage.
The 2013 Lincoln MKS that Fontanini’s parents drove had a push button, or keyless ignition. That model of car does make an audible warning, but investigators say that his mother Rina put the key fob in her purse, despite that. Officials say the carbon monoxide from the engine built up in the garage and seeped its way into the house, eventually killing them both.
"I was unaware that there was a problem with keyless ignitions until this happened to my parents," Fontanini said.
Most cars with keyless ignition do have some kind of visual or audible alert when the car is left running with the key fob not in the car. Some cars even have an automatic shut off feature, which turns off the vehicle after 30 minutes of inactivity.
Carbon Monoxide has been the main cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America for many years. Like many other similar tragedies the death of the Fontanini couple could have been easily prevented by purchasing and installing a carbon monoxide alarm. Alarms should be Underwriters Laboratories (UL) approved. The cost is minimal and in view of the possibility that it may save the lives of you and your family it is a bargain. Install a CO alarm on every floor of your home and within hearing range of each sleeping area. Carefully follow manufacturers’ instructions for their placement, use, and maintenance. Unlike smoke alarms, CO alarms may expire after several years. If you already have a carbon monoxide alarm which doesn’t show an expiration date, replace it immediately.
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