Many Californians have vehicles with keyless ignition systems. This feature comes on many newer vehicles and is one that most people like. The issue with these systems is they do not have an automatic shut-off safety feature after drivers park their vehicles and exit with the fob without turning off the ignition. This lack of an automatic shut-off feature has led to multiple deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning.
In response to the problem, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey is pushing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require manufacturers to install automatic shut-off features on cars with keyless ignition systems. In many cases, drivers have parked their vehicles in their garages and forgotten to turn them off, allowing carbon monoxide to seep into their homes. Some have died as a result.
The NHTSA reported in December 2011 that the lack of a shut-off feature is a "clear safety problem." Vehicle manufacturers have still not been required to install the shut-off features on keyless ignition systems, although proponents say that doing so would require only a simple software patch. Class action lawsuits have been filed against many car manufacturers for this issue. The lawsuits allege that the automakers knew or should have known about the hazards this problem would bring but did nothing.
Defectively designed or manufactured products, such as the keyless ignition systems at issue here, may result in serious injuries or deaths. When a person is killed because of a defective product, the surviving family members may want to meet with an attorney to discuss the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit that would seek available damages from the manufacturer or distributor.