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The nexus between keyless ignition systems and gas poisoning

If you're a Pennsylvania resident contemplating the purchase of a new vehicle, you're likely looking with keen interest at the effect that evolving technologies have had on automobiles in recent years.

Your next car, if new, might be arrayed with an impressive range of features that couldn't have been remotely contemplated by buyers even a few short years ago. Rear-view cameras, improved air bags, anti-rollover features, crash-avoidance assist and automatic braking -- all these and more promise to be standard features in upcoming vehicle models.

And, if some legislators, safety advocates and government agencies have their way, new vehicles will also be equipped with another safety-promoting feature in addition to those, namely, keyless ignition cars that will automatically shut off their engines when a driver failing to do so exits the vehicle with his or her so-called "fob" in hand.

High numbers of cars currently on the road don't do that, which has led in a confirmed 18 instances to fatal poisoning for carbon monoxide victims.

As a result, and as noted in a recent media article discussing the link between keyless ignition systems and wrongful deaths, "an increasing focus on class-action lawsuits" has developed. That litigation has emphasized that automakers knew or should have reasonably known that an emissions danger resulting from the lack of an automatic shut-down system was foreseeable.

The NHTSA will reportedly issue a final rule on the matter sometime next month.

Proponents of a change in law want any newly enacted rule to require that new cars come with an automatic shut-off feature and that all used vehicles in the United States without that feature be fixed by manufacturers.

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