As more and more vehicles have become keyless, there has been an increase in fatalities from carbon monoxide poisoning after unknowingly leaving cars running in garages. A recent New York Times article has shed light on this phenomenon. According to the NYT, more than 24 people have died at the hands of carbon monoxide as a result of leaving the car running since 2006, and many others have been permanently injured.
Motorists with these vehicles do not have to physically use a key, so it can remain in their pockets or purses. The vehicle turns on and off with just the press of a button. This, coupled with the quieter engines of most new vehicles, as led to many motorists getting out of their cars while the engine is still running and forgetting to turn the car off. If this occurs in an enclosed space – such as a garage – carbon monoxide can build up.
“Unfortunately, keyless cars can make it more difficult to remember to turn your vehicle off, as you no longer have to physically take the keys out,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas spokesperson. “But, with new technology comes new responsibility and this is something that car owners need to consider before purchasing a keyless vehicle.”
AAA offers the following tips for drivers of keyless vehicles:
- It is vital that drivers never start or leave a vehicle running in an enclosed space, like a garage, where engine exhaust gases containing poisonous carbon monoxide can be trapped.
- All homes should have carbon monoxide (CO) detectors to alert residents immediately if unsafe levels of CO become present.
- To prevent potential dangers when exiting the vehicle, AAA recommends that drivers move through a short mental list after every trip:
- Before walking away, always double check that the vehicle is turned off. Listen for any auditory warnings before closing a garage door and entering your home.
- Never leave key fobs in your vehicle, even if parked in a garage at home. Always store keys at least 20 feet from the vehicle.