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Brett Emison
Brett Emison
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Did You Know… Keyless Car Fobs Could Be Killers?

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Three U.S. deaths may be caused by an unlikely culprit—your latest car accessory, the keyless car fob. The keyless ignition on a Lexus sedan is believed to have led to the death of Queens lawyer Ernest Cordelia, Jr., the severe brain injury of his companion, Mary Rivera, due to carbon monoxide poisoning, and two other deaths in Florida.

Keyless ignitions allow car owners to enter and start their cars without inserting a key. Unfortunately, they also allow people to exit the vehicle without shutting off the engine, since they do not need to remove a key from the standard ignition cylinder. Combine that with the new, practically noiseless engines and you have a formula for disaster when a person becomes distracted exiting the car, especially when the car is parked in an attached garage as happened in the Rivera case.

Safety advocates 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.

Via 41 NBC News:

"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."

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"It creates certain safety risks that did not exist with conventional key technology."

Detectives in Palm Beach are also looking into the carbon monoxide poisoning of a woman motorist in August to determine if her keyless Lexus was to blame. http://www.toyotanation.com/forum/showthread.php?t=362968

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration spokesman Eric Bolton said the agency is assessing keyless ignition systems and is aware of "some potential safety issues" like the one that may have led to Codelia’s death. As I wrote here a few days ago, keyless system technology faces other challenges as well, including susceptibility to hackers.

Toyota, already plagued by recalls, though expressing sympathies over these recent incidents, has failed to accept any responsibility for these deaths and injuries.

This controversy will only grow as electronic key systems appear on more than 150 models of 2010 vehicles ranging from luxury to bargain cars.

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(c) Copyright 2011 Brett A. Emison

2 Comments

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  1. Joan says:
    up arrow

    yes this happened twice to me – once leaving out of town forgetting a book in the car returning and the engine was running – second time taking a friend for medical attention unable to lock the car with the fob returning thinking the door wasn’t closed and found the engine running a new 2010 nissan called the dealer and he said a warning sound should be heard and I left the car running and got out without hearing a warning sound he said to bring it in

  2. Joan says:
    up arrow

    yes this happened twice to me – once leaving out of town forgetting a book in the car returning and the engine was running – second time taking a friend for medical attention unable to lock the car with the fob returning thinking the door wasn’t closed and found the engine running a new 2010 nissan called the dealer and he said a warning sound should be heard and I left the car running and got out without hearing a warning sound he said to bring it in