The report notes keyless ignition systems are now standard on almost half of all new vehicles sold in the United States and this poses an increasing risk as some drivers forget to shut off their engine when they park in their garage.
Keyless cars have a risky downside. Ford's keyless-ignition vehicles will shut off if the key fob is not detected in the vehicle for 30 minutes, while Fiat Chrysler and Mazda vehicles will alert drivers when the key fob is not inside a running auto, but will not automatically turn it off.
"We're going to continue to see deaths and injuries", said Sean Kane, founder of Safety Research and Strategies, an auto safety research group. Sometimes, drivers mistakenly believe their cars are off after parking them, which can result in carbon monoxide filling their garages and homes.
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Drivers of keyless-ignition cars use wireless key fobs, rather than conventional keys, that allow them to lock, unlock, or start their vehicles. In 2006, the agency updated its regulations to state that with keyless ignitions, "a warning must be sufficient to catch a driver's attention before he or she exits the vehicle without the keys". The home filled with carbon monoxide and she collapsed and died between the bedroom and the kitchen, according to her daughter Vickie. If this happens for an extended period of time, they could eventually succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning.
By 2009, a number of such incidents had come to the attention of the Society of Automotive Engineers, which formed a panel to develop recommended practices to address keyless ignition hazards. Seven years ago, the Society of Automotive Engineers called for requiring automakers to include warning signals - such as a series of beeps to warn drivers.
Changes could be coming as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed a new regulation which would require vehicles to warn owners when the ignition hasn't been shut off. "Once NHTSA has finished its review and determined the best path forward, NHTSA will take appropriate action", the agency said in March in a statement to the Times.