NBC News reports that critics warn that keyless push-button ignition systems are flawed, and contain an “inherent design defect,” according to Sean Kane, president of Safety Research & Strategies, that allows it to continue generate carbon monoxide if the drive forgets to turn it off. According to Kane, drivers need the keyless fob to start the vehicle, “but it plays absolutely no role in turning it off.” Janette Fennell, founder and president of the safety group KidsAndCars.org, cited at least 19 fatalities attributed to keyless ignition vehicles since 2009, plus 25 additional “close calls.” In December 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acknowledged keyless vehicles posed a “clear safety problem” and proposed rules to require an alarm system to warn drivers who leave a car that’s still operating. There has been no further action since, but a NHTSA spokesman said the agency expects to issue a final rule mandating the warning alarm next month.
The Atlanta (GA) Journal-Constitution adds that critics of the NHTSA’s proposal believe it’s not enough and advocate for an automatic shutoff. NHTSA said it did not propose an automatic shutoff because of cases where “a driver intends to leave some electrical system or the engine in the vehicle running without his or her presence,” such as allowing a car to warm up in cold weather or leaving a passenger with heat or air conditioning. New York City attorney Martis Alex has also “filed a class-action lawsuit against 10 car manufacturers who make vehicles with keyless entry but no automatic shut-off function.”
From the news release of the American Association for Justice.