In a striking example of the law of unintended consequences, Yahoo News is reporting that a popular automotive convenience feature, push-button start, can lead to accidental death from carbon-monoxide poisoning. A simple technical fix—an attention-grabbing warning audible from outside the car—could head off the problem before it happens.
In cars that have keyless, push-button ignition, an electronic key fob is recognized by the car to authorize driving and the use of power accessories. That fob can conveniently remain in the driver’s pocket or purse, as the ignition switch itself is just a button on the dash.
Danger can arise, though, if a driver inadvertently leaves the car running when exiting the vehicle—an easy thing to do intentionally or accidentally. Even if you take the key fob with you, the engine can keep idling. If the car is parked in a closed garage attached to a house, especially a basement-level garage, carbon monoxide fumes from the idling engine may seep into the living area, possibly harming anyone in the house.
News reports have linked more than a dozen carbon-monoxide deaths to keyless ignitions, and a number of lawsuits have been filed against automakers including a potential class action suit against the 10 largest automakers, filed in late August. That suit, brought in California, alleges that automakers have known about this issue for years but ignored it.
Read more via Yahoo.com.
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