Keyless Ignitions Connected to Increased Carbon Monoxide Incidents; Poor Human Factors Design Leads to Death and Disability

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Key fobs and keyless ignition have brought an unintended deadly consequence with the new convenience technology.

New automotive electronic devices, which feature convenience and a security features, have the capability to start a car without getting inside; but also predispose a person to human error — walking away from the vehicle while accidentally leaving the engine running. This type of error is less likely to occur when a vehicle has a keyed ignition.

Ergonomics is an applied science concerned with designing and arranging “things” (tools, machines, equipment devices, etc) that people use so that people and “things” interact as efficiently and as safely as possible. Ergonomics is also called biotechnology, human engineering, or human factors science.

Key fobs and keyless ignition involves a failure in automotive ergonomics or human factors design, which has so far failed to engineer safeguards coinciding with the convenience technology. has documented 28 fatalities and 71 injuries due to carbon monoxide buildup in keyless ignition vehicles in the United States from 2006 to 2018.



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Carbon Monoxide/Vehicle Safety Tips

Have working carbon monoxide detectors or CO detectors in all areas of the homes, townhomes, duplexes, and apartments.

Be especially aware and CO detector-protected in multi-family residences where a neighbor’s human error with a running vehicle or even an attempted suicide by CO monoxide could put all residents in the multi-family residence at risk of death and permanent disability from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Install carbon monoxide detectors near sleeping areas and also in the garage. Change batteries twice a year and replace detectors every 6-10 years.

Never warm up a vehicle or leave it running in an enclosed space, such as a garage — even if the garage door is open.

Keyless ignition vehicles should always be double-checked to confirm that the vehicle has been turned off. Human error is a significant possibility because motorists take the key fob and leave the vehicle, they can forget and/or be unaware that the vehicle is running. There is currently no engineered safeguard to prevent this human error.

Do not put children or adults inside a running vehicle while clearing snow or ice off the vehicle — when a distraction could prevent you from remembering that children were left in a running vehicle.

Always make sure the tailpipe of a vehicle is clear in snowy weather conditions. If the tailpipe becomes clogged with ice, snow or other debris, carbon monoxide can leak into the passenger compartment, causing symptoms with illness, permanent disability and death.

Know the warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, which include headache, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath and nausea.

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