Article of Interest

Article of Interest

The Dangers of Keyless Ignitions
By:  Christopher Stoy

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on the firm website of Hutchison Stoy, PLLC, and is reprinted by permission.

Imagine this scenario. You’re a mother of three children. You arrive home from the grocery store, pull into the garage, shut the garage door behind you, hit the off button on your keyless ignition (you think), unload the kids and groceries and head inside. Nothing to be afraid of there, right?

Well, what if your child’s room or play area is near the entrance to the garage access door? And what if you didn’t push the off key on your keyless ignition hard enough, or you forgot since you’re not really used to using a key fob?

Why are Keyless Ignitions Dangerous?

This scenario happens more often than one would think and it is caused by a combination of factors. Key fobs play a role in starting a vehicle with a keyless ignition; they must be in close enough proximity to the vehicle for it to start. However, most keyless ignitions do not shut off just because the driver walks away from the vehicle.

Another factor is human behavior. For the average 35-year-old mother, almost all her 20 years of driving has involved the use of a key, which requires inserting into and removing from the ignition. After 20 years, this behavior is habitual and thus should be considered by automobile manufacturers when designing their vehicles.

Another factor is the increased quietness of vehicles. An ongoing battle exists between auto manufacturers to produce the “quietest” car. We see it advertised as a vehicle attribute in car commercials every day.

The results of scenarios such as that described above are alarming. According to, over 21 children died last year from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by keyless ignition vehicles, while over 48 children were poisoned.

Preventing these deaths is relatively simple. Manufacturers could install an automatic shutoff device for quite a low cost. The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration have already begun warning consumers and manufacturers through their website.

Some manufacturers say that they are working to prevent the problem by installing warning chimes that ding when your car doors are open. But does this really address the problem? Haven’t cars chimed for years when their doors were left open or lights left on? Many human factors experts would testify that over time our minds have become immune to warnings such as door chimes and that the safest poison-preventing device would be an automatic cut-off switch.

If you own a automobile that has a keyless ignition or fob and you want to take precaution, consider installing carbon monoxide detectors around the house and especially near the garage entrance door.

Automobile manufacturers are already facing several lawsuits over the dangers of keyless ignitions and more are certainly on their way.

Christopher Stoy is a personal injury attorney with the law firm of Hutchison Stoy, PLLC.

Views and opinions expressed in eNews are those of their authors and not necessarily those of the Texas Young Lawyers Association or the State Bar of Texas.

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