Both of my vehicles have keyless ignitions. In other words, I carry a key “fob” that allows me to start my vehicles with the press of a dashboard button while the fob remains in my pocket. How convenient. Today, more than 17 million vehicles sold each year in the U.S. have keyless ignitions but since being introduced in the 2000s, there has been a number of associated deaths and injuries attributable to this keyless system.
Dozens of people have been killed or suffered brain damage from carbon monoxide poisoning after failing to shut off the keyless ignition in their cars. Since 2006, at least 28 people have died and 45 injured after they left their vehicle engines running in their garages, allowing their homes to fill with the deadly gas.
A study revealed that the elderly are at particular risk of not switching off their engines on their newer, quieter cars. A Florida couple, Jeanette Colter, age 70 and her 89 year old husband, David died after their home filled with carbon monoxide. This is only one of many tragic stories of death or injury that could easily have been prevented by not forgetting to press the start/stop engine button on the dashboard.
Some automobile manufactures have or are taking steps to address this issue but until the proper solution is implemented, each of us must take that extra step to prevent a tragedy like that of a Miramar Beach, Florida couple who on October 8, 2015 smelled car fumes. They had parked their car in the garage and left the engine running over night, flooding their home with carbon monoxide. The husband said he realized what had happened but was confused and had slowed motor skills due to the lack of oxygen. He was able to save himself and his wife who woke up gasping for air.
After reading about this ongoing threat to my wife and myself, as is recommended in a number of articles, we have purchased and installed a carbon monoxide detector available at any hardware store. The instructions say to place the detector at the floor level since carbon monoxide is heavier than air and stays low. Also it is suggested to attach a sign on the wall in front of where you park your vehicle reading “TURN YOUR ENGINE OFF.”
The bottom line is it is up to us to take the simple steps to prevent a preventable tragedy until industry finds and implements a permanent solution.