Report: More keyless ignition cars linked to carbon monoxide deaths

Engines running for hours without owners realizing
Posted at 5:40 PM, May 14, 2018

TAMPA, Fla. — "My mom told me to get a carbon monoxide detector just in case. And ended up definitely needing it," says Christina Huff, whose neighbor's keyless ignition car was left running in the garage for several hours one night in 2016.

Huff woke to the sound of her dog barking at the carbon monoxide alarm in her home.

"It was actually outside my door. [My dog] heard the alarm and woke me up," says Huff to ABC Action News, recounting what became a close call.

Huff called 911 and firefighters had to make entry into the neighbor's home to wake her up and save her life.

This close call in 2016 left Huff questioning the technology.

"I'll probably never get a keyless entry car. Just because of what happened. It freaks me out," says Huff. 

In a new report entitled Deadly Convenience, the New York Times counts 28 deaths and 45 injuries linked to carbon monoxide poisoning from keyless ignitions.

With a traditional car key you can't take your key fob out while leaving the car running, but in some newer model vehicles that use a keyless fob, it's not too difficult to walk away from a running engine.

ABC Action News has also previously reported on this subject, including several deadly cases of carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of keyless ignition vehicles.

That's why some cars now have warning messages and sounds to remind drivers to turn their car off.

Some people are pushing car makers to create an "auto shut-off" for vehicles left idling for more than, say, 30 minutes.

But neither safety measure is required by law right now.

If your car, or a neighbor's, does have a keyless ignition, a carbon monoxide detector could be a life-saver.

"I think we bought them at Walmart. They were like five or 10 dollars. And it ended up saving about 12 lives," says Huff.