Keyless ignition deaths: Mounting cases reinforce U.S.-leading threat

By Charles Elmore – Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Additional cases coming to light are only reinforcing just how deadly an invisible and odorless threat has proven to be in Palm Beach County, which leads the nation in deaths tied to keyless vehicle ignition systems.

Kansas-based nonprofit group KidsAndCars.org says it has documented seven carbon-monoxide poisoning deaths in Palm Beach County out of 21 nationally linked to keyless cars since 2009. That’s one in three.

“The numbers are troubling because they are growing and nobody is doing anything about it,” Amber Rollins, the group’s director, told The Palm Beach Post. “How many more people have to die before we take proactive measures?”

The deaths typically occur when a driver does not realize a car’s engine has not shut off in a garage attached to a house, apartment or town home. Keyless cars are billed as a high-tech convenience, but when drivers exit vehicles without being aware quietly running modern engines are still on, carbon monoxide can seep into the house and kill.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expected to issue rules for carmakers this month after years of review. But relatives of those who have died fear only new cars might face significant requirements, not those already on the road.

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