Cars with keyless entry killing people?

It has come to light that the keyless entry and engine start/stop systems of cars have caused many deaths and injuries in the United States. This feature, which boosts driver convenience by several notches, was first introduced by Mercedes Benz in 1998. The feature totally eliminates the use of keys. The feature has now trickled down to even some of the budget cars.

Cars with keyless entry killing people?

As per a recent report, this feature has caused as many as 28 deaths and 45 injuries in the US since 2006. These casualties have been caused by the carbon monoxide gas emitted by cars with the keyless ignition system. Many victims have suffered brain damage due to the harmful effects of poisonous gasses. The aforementioned report goes on to mention that some owners forgot to turn off the engine after parking the cars, equipped with keyless systems, in closed spaces. Since most modern cars are pretty silent at idle, the owners didn’t realize that their car engines are running. On being left running over elongated periods of time, the exhaust fumes containing carbon monoxide filled the vicinity. This resulted in deaths and injuries.

In 2011, the Society of Automotive Engineers even issued recommendations to car manufacturers to install audible or visual alerts that can remind the drivers to turn off the car engine on leaving the vehicle. A new set of laws is expected to be put into force as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed a new regulation that would require the vehicles to warn the drivers to switch off the engine before leaving the car. While this would be a welcome move, manufacturers could oppose it as it would cost them more than $ 5,00,000 a year to offer the proposed safety alarm. Some manufacturers, however, have already installed a system that turns off the engine in case the car has been idling over a sufficiently long period of time.  While this study is based on the US market, many cars on sale in India come with the keyless feature. Hence, a safety alarm to warn Indian drivers to turn off the engine before leaving the car makes complete sense even in our scenario.

Is it really a big worry, though, in India?

Not really for us here. This is because most of us do not have garages that can be closed when parked, attached to our houses. In India, we park often in open garages if it is a house, outside apartment buildings, underground parkings which are open and so on. These are not closed, and hence not a big worry. However, if you have a house with an attached garage that can be closed – and if there are ways for gas to enter the house, you should be doubly careful about to ensure that the car is shut down when parked.

Source- NY Times