Push-button start has found its way to millions of new vehicles sold every single year. The feature does away with a physical key to turn the engine over and replaces it with a fob to transmit a radio signal. When the radio signal is in range, the car will start up with the push of the button.
However, for all of its convenience, there’s an underlying consequence for some drivers. The New York Times reported on Sunday that the keyless-start feature and carbon monoxide deaths are becoming more prevalent, and regulations are lagging behind to protect drivers.
The detailed report includes multiple stories of drivers who left their car running without realizing of all makes and models. Toyota is named specifically in many of the stories. One story details how a 75-year-old man exited his vehicle without realizing the engine was still on. As the car sat in his garage, carbon monoxide fumes filled the home and left him dead. Authorities said the carbon monoxide levels were 30 times the acceptable level.
Now, groups are demanding action and putting together litigation to serve various automakers. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration once proposed a federal regulation that called for a series of beeps to alert the driver the engine is still running. The regulation also called for the engine to shut down automatically.
But automakers pushed back and the regulation has sat in limbo for years. And although more automakers are taking measures to prevent carbon monoxide deaths, slightly older vehicles are still at risk. And it’s not exactly inexpensive for automakers to fix the problem. General Motors spent $5 per car to to install an automatic emergency shutoff in a 2015 safety recall.