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As cars become more advanced, they present new dangers. One such danger is vehicles with keyless ignition or push to start technology. A New York Times report published over the weekend detailed that since 2006, at least 28 people have died and 45 others have suffered injuries from carbon-monoxide poisoning after believing they turned off their vehicles.

The article details carbon monoxide flooding the homes of keyless-ignition vehicles drivers who accidentally left vehicles running in a garage. While more than two dozen people have been killed by the colorless and odorless gas, several more have been left with severe injuries including severe brain damage.

Keyless ignition was first introduced in the early 2000s on luxury vehicles. Now, the technology is readily available on vehicles across all budgets. Currently, more than half of the 17 million cars sold annually in the United States come standard with keyless ignitions. Newer cars often come with quieter engines which can lull drivers into believing their vehicle has been properly turned off.

A January 2011 Standard issued by the Society of Automotive Engineers called for requiring automakers to include warning signals. The signals would alert drivers exiting their vehicles that cars are still on. An example of warning signals would include a series of beeps or shutting the engine off automatically.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also supports such a feature alleging that, along with carbon monoxide poisoning, an added danger is vehicles rolling away. The New York Times reports that the NHTSA has not acted on the idea, but that the rule is still under consideration.

In addition to industry experts suggestions, attorneys filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of injured clients in 2015. The suit alleged that 13 carbon monoxide-related deaths linked to keyless-ignition vehicles. The lawsuit claimed that automakers Nissan, Ford, Toyota, FCA US (Fiat Chrysler) and Hyundai failed to install safety features, such as an auto-off feature, for their keyless ignition switches. The suit alleged that without this sort of safeguard, the possibility for keyless ignition vehicles to run without keys potentially increased the risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. However, in September 2016 United States District Judge Andre Birotte Jr dismissed the suit. The suit’s plaintiffs ultimately failed to show how keyless ignitions caused owners any actual injury.

How to Prevent Keyless Ignition Carbon-Monoxide Poisoning 

Unlike the General Motors ignition switch recall, keyless ignition is not a faulty component issue. The tragic deaths from the keyless ignition vehicles were largely preventable. However, until auto manufacturers do more to protect drivers and their families, the NHTSA recommends basic safety tips to prevent injuries from keyless ignitions:

  • Make sure your car is in park before shutting off the engine.
  • Double check your engine is off.
  • Apply the vehicle’s parking brake.
  • Read the driver’s manual for detailed instructions on how to operate your vehicle.
  • Don’t warm up your vehicle in the garage.
  • Install a Carbon Monoxide Detectors.

Carbon-Monoxide Detectors or Alarms

Carbon monoxide can be detected with a device that detects the presence of the toxic gas in the air. Because carbon monoxide is a colorless, tasteless and odorless gas, installing a CO detector is the best way to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

Installing a carbon monoxide detector is necessary when you have a home that runs on gas. However, many people don’t consider installing one when they have a keyless entry vehicle that they park in their home’s garage.

How should carbon monoxide detectors be installed?

These life-saving devices should be placed on every level of your home. This will ensure that you have maximum protection. In addition, carbon monoxide detectors are best able to read your home’s air when placed five feet from the ground.

How many CO detectors do I need?

A carbon monoxide detector should be placed near every sleeping area in your home. In the event that CO levels in your home get too high during the night, those sleeping will be able to hear the alarm sounding off.

You should also have a CO detector near any attached garages in your home. Cars produce carbon monoxide when they are running. And those fumes can spread quickly to the rest of your home. This is especially important when your vehicle has a push to start ignition with a quieter engine.

How do I know if I’m being exposed to too much CO?

Your carbon monoxide detector will alert you when the carbon monoxide in your home reaches dangerous levels. In fact, some CO detectors have displays on them that will read the amount of CO in the air of your home. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) measures carbon monoxide in the same way it measures most airborne toxins, in parts per million (ppm). Even if you don’t have gas appliances in your home, most people will still have some level of carbon monoxide in their homes. The common thresholds of carbon monoxide are as follows:

  • .5-5 ppm – the standard amount in homes with gas appliances.
  • > 70 ppm – Most people will have no negative effects when exposed to CO ranges below 70 ppm for short periods of time. However, prolonged exposure (6-8 hours) can lead to health effects such as dizziness and headaches.
  • 100 ppm – Most people will have a slight headache when exposed for two or more hours.
  • 150 -200 ppm – prolong exposure at these level often leads to disorientation and unconsciousness. These high levels can also lead to death.

Average levels in homes without gas stoves vary from .5 to 5 ppm. However, levels near properly adjusted gas stoves are often 5 to 15 ppm and those near poorly adjusted stoves may be 30 ppm or higher.

What are the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Even at low or moderate concentrations, healthy people can experience fatigue and chest pains. However, at higher concentrations or long time exposure more serious effects can emerge. Unknowing carbon monoxide victims may experience the following symptoms:

  • Impaired vision
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Flu-like symptoms that clear up after leaving home

Death may occur when concentrations are high and exposure is long lasting. Acute exposure are due to the formation of carboxyhemoglobin in the blood; which inhibits oxygen intake. The elderly and young children are highly susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning. As mentioned, the elderly are likely to leave their keyless entry vehicles running upon exiting.

The Carlson Law Firm Can Help

Poorly designed vehicles can lead to deadly situations. Large manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure the products they sell to the general public are safe. Product liability is often difficult to determine because it is difficult to figure out who is truly at fault. However, The Carlson Law Firm has skilled product liability attorneys who can help you navigate the complex American legal system. If you suffered a serious injury or a loved one was killed because of a dangerous product, contact our firm today.

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