Beware: A keyless-car ignition is once again being blamed for carbon-monoxide poisoning fatalities. And people are suing automakers over the issue.

Last weekend in Boca Raton, Fla., elderly Adele Ridless and Mort Victor were found dead in the bedroom of their home, apparent victims of carbon monoxide poisoning when they left their car running, according to a story in Hernando Today.

Ridless, 69, and Victor, 79, had gone out to eat and returned home, apparently leaving their keyless ignition Mercedes running in their garage. There is a double tragedy here, due to lax regulations regarding both keyless ignitions and laws on carbon monoxide detectors.

A story in Hernando Today pointed out that Florida’s laws regarding carbon monoxide detectors are less than stringent. In the Sunshine States, the law only requires hotels, motels, and buildings put up after July 2008 that have fossil-fuel burning heaters, appliances or fireplaces to install carbon monoxide detectors.

Simply put, that’s ridiculous, especially in light of the fact that in 2010 35 Florida residents died of carbon monoxide poisoning, an increase from 18 in 2001, according to Hernando Today.

The second obvious lesson in all this is that auto makers need to install automatic shutoffs or warning systems for car owners with keyless ignitions.

According to ABC News, the Center for Auto Safety is aware of six deaths that it’s blaming on push-button starters. The safety group is asking automakers (160 car models now have a keyless-starter option) to go back to old-fashioned keys. Since there is no key in an ignition to turn off, drivers sometimes forget to turn their cars off, leaving running and spewing potentially fatal fumes.

Some people who have been in that situation, who have owned push-button starts cars and allegedly suffered losses, have filed against some car manufacturers, according to ABC. Mary Rivera is one of the plaintiffs.

ABC interviewed Rivera, a Long Island, N.Y., resident who unfortunately knows all too well the dangers of keyless car ignitions. In 2009 she inadvertently left her Toyota running in her garage. Her husband died of carbon monoxide poisoning, while Rivera, unconscious, was rescued by her brother.

Toyota told ABC that its autos sound an alarm if a motorist leaves one of its cars without shutting if off. I guess that warning didn’t sound off in Rivera’s case.

An official with the Center for Auto Safety conceded to ABC that drivers have to be held partially to blame for leaving their cars running, but added “the cost of forgetfulness should not be death by carbon monoxide.”

The National Traffic Safety Administration is also lobbying for automakers to “standardize all the push-button starters to avoid confusion,” according to ABC. It needs to advocate much stronger safeguards, such as warning alarms, for the button-style car starters.


1 reply
  1. Brian trower
    Brian trower says:

    Although this is a very sad story. I have a keyless ignition on my Mercedes and LOVE IT!
    I personally cant see what the Keyless Ignitions have to do with the deaths. The FACT is that these people went to bed and left their cars running in their garages. This would have happened if they had left any car running whether or not it had a keyless ignition. Sounds to me like simply some greedy attorney spin on things to try and extort money from car companies with deep pockets.


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