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Keyless ignition: How to avoid one fatal mistake

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Tired of digging around for car keys? Buy a car with a keyless ignition system. Found in nearly 72 percent of vehicles these days, keyless ignition systems purportedly offer a convenient alternative to the "old fashioned" key.

Instead of a traditional key, a small remote device-called a FOB-that you can carry in your pocket or purse unlocks the doors and starts the car.

While drivers can easily start the car with the push of a button, they can just as easily forget to turn the car off. This innocent mistake can lead to tragic consequences.

Drivers can also put themselves at risk if they forget how to shut down the engine in the event of an emergency.

If a driver parks the car in the garage without turning it off, the running engine can fill the garage and home with carbon monoxide, which can lead to serious injury or death from carbon monoxide poisoning.

According to a lawsuit filed against major automakers in August 2015, 13 deaths and numerous injuries have occurred in cars that continue to run after the owner and the FOB leave the vehicle. Some car owners assume the vehicle shuts off automatically. It doesn't.

Many auto manufacturers have tried to improve safety by warning consumers with an audible chirp or beep that they have left the car running. The Chevrolet Volt and other vehicles have software that will shut the car off a few minutes after the FOB leaves the vehicle.

However, according to a Consumer Reports "quick scan" of its test car fleet, models from Volvo, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, and Chrysler do not yet have any warning system in place.

To protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning or other injury from keyless ignition systems, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends the following:

• Make sure your car is in "park" before shutting down the engine.

• Make sure you turn off the engine before exiting the car.

• Apply the parking brake before exiting the car.

• Check your driver's manual for instructions on how to properly operate your vehicle.

Does your car have a keyless ignition system? Does it warn you if you fail to shut off the ignition? If not, here's how to take action:

• Write the manufacturer and alert them of the problem. Demand a recall of the unsafe make and model.

• If you've been injured from failing to shut down a keyless ignition, the manufacturer, distributor, and/or retailer may be held responsible. Contact a law firm that handles product liability cases.

• If a keyless ignition system played a role in your auto accident, a personal injury lawyer can help you recover money for medical bills, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and other expenses.

If you have a car with a keyless ignition system, or plan to purchase one, understand how to operate it in case of emergency and don't lock the door without turning it off!

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David G. Smith, Attorney At Law
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Oakland, CA 94612

Phone: 925-308-6484
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