Death Toll Rising in Keyless Ignition Tragedies as Regulators Idle
Palm Beach County is leading the nation for deaths linked to keyless vehicle ignition systems according to a recent article in the Palm Beach Post. To date, five fatalities have been documented in Palm Beach County out of the 14 reported nationwide. The tragedy occurs when drivers accidently leave their vehicles running, operating under a common misconception that the engines will shut off when the key fob is removed from the vehicle. However, engines continue to run, emitting toxic gases into the homes, and silently poisoning owners with colorless, odorless carbon monoxide.
As with many tragedies linked to defective products, this series of deaths could have been prevented if manufacturers and safety agencies (recognizing that keyless ignition systems were becoming the standard in new vehicles), had tackled the issue head on. In December 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a proposal that manufacturers implement an alert in vehicles equipped with keyless ignitions to warn drivers that the car is still running. The rule would have been consistent with existing regulations that requires cars with a traditional key to shut down if it is removed from the ignition. No such rule protects drivers of keyless ignition cars, which can continue running even after a driver walks away, taking the electronic key fob needed to start the engine.
In March 2012, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) issued a report reinforcing the safety concerns and urging the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to take action. The report stated, “Audible alerts are a useful method for alerting drivers to unsafe conditions and should help alleviate rollaway, theft, and carbon monoxide risks. We support the proposed countermeasures and encourage the agency to strengthen them.”
However, despite the concerns raised years ago and proposed rule, the death toll continues to rise and there is still no solution in place. Unfortunately, this tragic pattern is a familiar occurrence in product liability litigation. Often times, regulators and manufacturers get mired in bureaucracy or hesitate to implement change in order to avoid additional costs. While they idle by, innocent consumers become the victims of their negligence.
If you need a Florida product liability injury attorney to represent you, a family member, or a friend who has been a victim of negligence contact immediately Domnick Cunningham & Whalen for information.