Keyless Ignitions Found to Have an “Inherent Design Defect”

May 20, 2016 | Crandall & Pera Law
Keyless Ignitions Found to Have an “Inherent Design Defect”

Here at Crandall & Pera Law, we have a love/hate relationship with technology. It is not that we don’t care for change or progress. It’s more that we see so many instances where technology is at the root of serious, injury-inducting mistakes. For every piece of automotive safety equipment that hits the market, there is a news story about an older life-changing piece of tech that turns out to be more dangerous than we thought.

The latest case involves keyless ignitions. NBC News reports that a design flaw in the ignition system could keep your car running for hours. If you park your inside the garage, the carbon monoxide that builds up can leak into your home. This exact scenario, according to the founder of safety group, has led to the death of 19 people since 2009.

Why does it happen?

Janette Fennell is the founder of, and she explains the reasoning behind the keyless ignition problem this way:

"In the past, you had a traditional metal key that you could only remove from the ignition when you shifted the vehicle into park and the key had been turned to the off position. Keyless ignition vehicles completely upend that relationship. In most vehicles you can exit with the fob - which most drivers believe is the key - and the engine will keep running until it is out of fuel. You need the fob to start the vehicle, but it plays absolutely no role in turning it off."

To combat the problem, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed an alarm system that would let drivers know the car was still running. That proposal came in 2011; nothing has been done about it since. The Center for Auto Safety recommends, instead of a warning system, that car manufacturers include an automatics engine shut-off as part of the software, and wants the NHTSA to enforce such a ruling. Without NHTSA regulation, there is no way to force automakers to build the component in.

Some manufacturers have recalled older models of their cars for just this reason (Chevy and Lincoln among them), and new models of certain cars do come equipped with an automatic engine shut-off. Unfortunately, until there are rules in place demanding it, there is no way to guarantee that automakers will spend the money to fix the problem.

Crandall & Pera Law is proud to represent clients throughout Ohio and Kentucky. If you sustained a serious injury because of someone else’s negligence, you can trust us to fight for your rights. Please contact us to find out how one of our skilled products liability attorneys in Ohio or Kentucky can help.

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