Keyless cars are still a relatively new technology. There’s great appeal to not having to fumble for your keys and simply being able to push a button to start your car. Not having keys dangling and banging into your legs can be a relief. The keyless-start technology works only when the driver keeps the car’s fob in a purse or pocket, so the car can’t be started by just anyone. It sounds ideal, but this practice is fraught with potential danger. While car accidents injure thousands each year, they are not the only source of injury or death involving automobiles.
The Effects of Carbon Monoxide Exposure
Since 2006, nearly 30 people have died as a result of accidentally leaving the car running and being poisoned by carbon monoxide (CO poisoning). Even more people have survived, but were injured as a result of inhaling CO. Heavy exposure to exhaust fumes is very serious. Symptoms of CO poisoning can make you feel like you have the flu, with symptoms including a headache, dizziness, weakness, chest pain, confusion, and vomiting. There are potential long-term complications from this dangerous exposure, including chronic fatigue and lethargy, nervous system problems, memory problems, and problems with movement. Over time, repeated CO exposure (chronic poisoning) can be a contributor to heart damage, brain damage, permanent memory loss, and a shortened life span.
A Silent Killer
It is easy to be unaware you are being exposed to CO, as it is a colorless and odorless gas. The lack of clear signs that carbon monoxide is present at a dangerous level means that CO poisoning is common. In fact, it’s the most common type of fatal poisoning in many countries. There are many ways one can be accidentally overexposed to CO, whether from vehicles, cooking equipment, power generators or heaters that run on carbon-based fuels. With the quiet-running technology of many newer, modern vehicles, and lack of the physical action of turning a key to turn off your car, it can be easy to forget a car is left on. Or, a driver may be unclear about when the car is, or is not, actually running, which can result in potentially tragic consequences. Should a vehicle be left in an attached garage while still running, the gas can infiltrate an entire home and kill sleeping inhabitants.
Safety Mechanisms May Not Protect You
Some vehicles include warning beeps when the driver leaves the vehicle while it is still running, but not all manufacturers include these warning sounds, as they are not required by law. And once those warning bells have sounded, there may not be additional sounds or visual cues to alert people that the car is running. Certain car manufacturers have included an automatic shut-off if the motor is running and the fob is not in the vehicle, but that doesn’t occur for a period of 30 minutes. Even a few minutes of carbon monoxide exposure at high levels can be extremely dangerous or deadly. And, even with this auto shut-off function, if owners leave the fob in the vehicle for the sake of convenience, the car would not shut off.
Legal Action for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and Keyless Cars
A class action suit was brought against manufacturers of vehicles with keyless-start technology, but an initial case was dismissed. However, many individual cases have been settled by automobile manufacturers, and there are likely to be more, as the number of injured and dead from the use of keyless-start technology continues to climb.
If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident involving keyless start, including being sickened, harmed or killed by CO poisoning, we can help determine liability and seek justice for your claim. Contact the Law Office of Jeff Green for a free consultation today.