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Material, growing concern: keyless ignitions, carbon monoxide

Following is a truly scary hypothetical to ponder.

Imagine that you start your car in the garage with a keyless ignition device that is now popular and commonplace with millions of vehicles. And then, suddenly, just as are you about to leave for work, you remember something you forgot to do inside your home.

So you go do it. In doing so, though, you exit your car with your so-called key “fob” (that is, your keyless start device), which inadvertently leaves your car running.

And then you become preoccupied with other matters once back inside the house, forgetting that your vehicle is idling away in the garage.

To say that such a scenario is a potential disaster is a flatly true and even tragic understatement, given the repercussions that can stem from a vehicle engine left running in a confined area.

We’re talking carbon monoxide, of course, which a recent media article discussing keyless ignition-linked deaths focuses centrally upon in a discussion involving what the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has termed a “clear safety problem.”

To wit: If you absentmindedly leave your vehicle running after exiting it with your fob in hand, its failure to automatically turn off could yield a fatal aftermath, given the silent, odorless and deadly nature of spreading carbon monoxide vapors.

And the horror of that is far from being a mere hypothetical. The above-cited source points to reports stating that at least 18 people across the country have died from “known deaths linked to carbon monoxide poisonings from keyless vehicles.”

That has understandably put the matter firmly on the radar of safety regulators and some legislators. The NHTSA will reportedly issue a final rule regarding a responsive safety measure next month. Although that is being applauded, critics voice concern that legislation might only require new vehicles to provide an adequate warning or contain a mechanism that ensures an automatic engine shut down when a driver exits a vehicle with his or her fob.

A new-vehicle only mandate would of course leave many millions of used vehicles unregulated.

The matter is of course important and urgent. We will be sure to keep our readers across Southern California timely informed on material developments that occur.