It wasn’t so long ago that it was pretty difficult to get away from your car without turning it off and taking your keys with you. Our keychains were the access centers of our lives. Without even thinking about it, we’d shift from our vehicles to our homes to our offices, and countless other stops in-between, with our keys at the ready each step of the way.
But what happens when the keys get removed from that process? What happens when our car keys increasingly never leave our pockets or handbags and our vehicles become quieter and quieter? As it turns out, we start making fatal errors.
Since 2006, more than two dozen people have been killed and twice that number injured by pulling their cars into attached garages, going inside their homes, and never turning their cars off.
One of those victims was found in a home so full of carbon monoxide that the leaves had fallen off of his plants. The gas was at levels 30 times higher than what’s needed to be lethal. In another incident, one person was left dead and another with a brain injury when a car with a keyless ignition system was left running in a Florida home.
The issue is starting to gain attention and people want action. In fact, seven years ago, organizations like the Society of Automotive Engineers were making recommendations for ways to alert drivers and vehicle owners that their engines were still running when the key fob left its close proximity to the car. Features that would be seemingly easy to implement, such as a beeping sound or even a complete engine shut-down, were proposed. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration liked the proposals so much they adopted them and put them forth as newly-proposed federal regulations.
Automakers, however, were quick to oppose such measures and as it stands right now, no federal regulation currently exists in this arena. Manufacturers are left to their own devices to decide the lengths they will go to try to keep their customers safe.
As injuries and deaths continue to mount and liability lawsuits ask why more hasn’t been done to keep families safe, it is only a matter of time before these manufacturers will be legislatively forced to take decisive action.