Many new cars are equipped with keyless ignition systems. In fact, 70% of 2015 car models are equipped with the system. Drivers enjoy such systems for the convenience provided, however they are not without safety hazards. Recently, a class action lawsuit has been filed against ten of the world's largest car manufacturers alleging that the keyless ignition system with which they equip their automobiles poses a fatal hazard. The ten companies that have been named in the lawsuit include Toyota, Ford, Nissan, Honda, BMW, Volkswagen, Bentley, Mercedes Benz, Hyundai, and Kia. The keyless ignition defect is most likely to affect hybrid cars with smooth running, quiet engines which are produced by these companies.
Thirteen people have died since 2009 as a result of the defect, which causes a build up of carbon monoxide. Most of the deaths occurred as a result of the carbon monoxide seeping from enclosed garages into houses. The suit alleges that the manufacturers could have added an inexpensive feature that would automatically turn the engine off if unattended to prevent these senseless fatalities. Another alternative that has been suggested by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration includes a loud warning sound that could be heard both inside and outside the vehicle to alert the driver if the engine was not turned off.
Although many advances in automobile technology can be helpful for the convenience of drivers, it is still necessary to take safety precautions. If you have a car with a keyless ignition system, it is still important to make sure that it is turned off. Check the notification on the dashboard to ensure that the engine is turned off. Another way to check that the engine is shut off is to open the door to the vehicle and make sure both the dashboard notification and radio have turned off.
Although current federal regulations require that a car with a traditional key shut off after the key is removed, there aren't such regulations concerning keyless fobs. Considering that the keyless feature has risen from being implemented in 2% of vehicles in 2005 to 70% in 2015 models, the class action calls for a reform in car manufacturing that would protect millions of Americans.
If you have suffered illness, or a loved one has died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning due to a keyless ignition defect, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise you of your legal remedies. Call Sakkas, Cahn & Weiss, LLP at (212)571-7171.