A group of plaintiffs have filed a class action lawsuit against ten of the world's largest automakers, claiming the keyless ignition system can be deadly. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Los Angeles, alleges the car companies were aware the systems increased the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and concealed the danger from consumers.
The plaintiffs are seeking money damages and an injunction that would force manufacturers to install an automatic shut-off feature to avoid future fatalities.
Is Your Engine Running?
The danger from keyless ignition systems exists when drivers leave their cars running, assuming the engines will turn off by themselves. This doesn't happen, however, and people may not notice the poisonous gas their cars are emitting whilst still running. The risk is increased when cars have quiet engines and are parked in garages attached to homes.
According to the recently filed complaint, some 13 people have been killed and many more injured by carbon monoxide poisoning. While some vehicles have an alert if a driver leaves a car running, and some newer models come with an automatic engine shutoff feature, the plaintiffs here don't think that goes far enough. The lawsuit also contends, "The automakers had actual knowledge of the dangerous carbon monoxide poisoning consequences of vehicles with keyless fobs that lack an automatic shut-off."
Remix to Ignition
While the other defendant auto manufacturers, including BMW, Mini Daimler's Mercedes Benz, Fiat Chrysler, General Motors Co., Honda, and Acura have yet to comment on the litigation, Ford has said it takes customer safety "very seriously," and contends its keyless ignition system is "safe and reliable."
In order to solve the ignition shutoff problem, car makers may have to issue a recall on the affected models. The Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also has the authority to require manufacturers to recall vehicles with safety-related defects, but thus far the NHTSA has declined to comment on the latest ignition problem.