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Keyless ignitions can pose a potentially deadly danger

Many of our vehicles today have keyless ignitions. This can provide some convenience. However, because the key fob only has to be within a few feet of the ignition, we may have a hard time locating it if it's disappeared to the bottom of a purse, diaper bag or under the seat when we need the other keys on our ring.

However, keyless ignitions can pose a much more serious danger -- carbon monoxide poisoning. This can occur if someone doesn't turn push the button hard enough to turn the car off and it's left running for an extended period of time in an attached garage.

At least a dozen people throughout the country, including a Highland Park couple, have died from carbon monoxide poisoning after their keyless ignition car was accidentally left running. Other people who realized that something was wrong were fortunate enough to get out of the house before a tragedy ensued, even if they didn't know at first what had happened.

The son of the Highland Park couple is suing the manufacturer of his parents' Lincoln MKS, the Ford Motor Company. There is also a class action suit against 10 automakers that, in part, asks these companies to make what the lead attorney says is an easy "auto off" switch, which is already on some cars.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also has recommended adding an automatic shut-off that would turn off the engine if the key fob is out of range of the car for a time. NHTSA has also suggested having the car produce a loud alarm if the engine is left running. The safety agency is scheduled to make a final decision on proposed safety changes in February 2016.

While some people may wonder how a driver could leave their engine running without knowing it, many drivers of keyless ignition vehicles, particularly quiet ones like a hybrids and electric cars, can tell you that it's easier than you might think. If a person is older and/or doesn't have a keen sense of hearing, it can be particularly dangerous. If you or someone you love has been impacted by this problem, it's essential to seek legal guidance.

Source: NBC 2, "Proposed Keyless Ignition Alert Rule May Have Prevented Carbon Monoxide Deaths," Bryan Anderson, Nov. 02, 2015

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