• Feb 7, 2011
According to WMGT Channel 41 of Georgia, automakers are facing increasing scrutiny regarding the safety of their keyless start systems. According to the NBC affiliate, there are at least three carbon-dioxide related deaths – one in New York, and a pair in Florida – that are being blamed on the technology.
In one case, the family of a Whitestone, New York man is suing Toyota for his wrongful death. According to an older report from the New York Daily News, the family alleges that on February 27, 2009, Mary Rivera parked her Lexus in the attached garage of the home she shared with Ernest Codelia Jr. and accidentally left the engine running. The next day, Codelia was found dead in his bed of carbon monoxide poisoning while Rivera was discovered unconscious on the bedroom floor. She survived the incident, but suffers from brain damage as a result.

Codelia's family is alleging that that the keyless ignition system on the Lexus is to blame for the tragedy and that Toyota should have installed a shutdown switch to kill the engine if the vehicle is unoccupied or unmoved after a certain period of time. The lawsuit says that the keyless ignition system violates federal safety standards because owners can leave the vehicle running even with the key fob in their pocket.

It is at this point that we must note that in our experience, Toyota's keyless ignition mechanism operates in essentially the same manner as every other system used by other automakers, and that cars equipped with the technology are programmed to deliver both audible and visual warnings if the driver attempts to leave the car without first shutting off the engine.

Rivera, meanwhile, has no recollection of leaving the car running, presumably because the engine is so quiet. The family's lawyer says that she "somehow feels responsible" for the tragedy. Thanks for the tip, Jon!

[Sources: WMGT Channel 41, New York Daily News]


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  • 111 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      Asides from the "gee whiz" part of it, I don't see the point of keyless start systems. I mean, you still have to carry keys for home and work, what's another one on the key fob?
        • 3 Years Ago
        @adrenalnjunky

        I knew this would come up. Her right wrist can't withstand much torque. So we had to get a car with ignition on the left side (like Porsches used to have, idk if they still do). And you'll note that all those functions require something other than torquing the wrist. Try turning the wheel on your car, is it a lateral load? Or do you twist your wrist as though you're opening the door knob?

        And her tensile strength isn't that great so she has a car with a foot operated parking brake, I'm sure you've been inside an SUV before? Surely you'll note that they're not that uncommon.
        And next time you've got a torque wrench handy, figure out how many N*m it takes to twist the key without much mechanical advantage (pretend you've got crappy, small girl hands) and compare that to what it takes to spin the HVAC knobs, it's orders of magnitude of difference.

        The gear selector is becoming a bit of an issue for her, but she's got two hands and can manage to move it. In the future, she'd like to get something like a Prius with that nifty joystick like gear selector.

        Don't worry, she's not some menace. She just has to make sure that she purchases a car wisely, but don't we all?
        • 3 Years Ago
        It's really handy when its cold outside and you can go to a window and let the car warm up without stepping outside.
        • 3 Years Ago
        well its nice that i can start my car, get out and then lock it without locking my key inside the car. its also virtually impossible to lock my keys in the car because the car will unlock if i open the door and the keys are still inside. the only way to lock it is by using the actual physical key from the outside while its running. locking my keys in my car has never been an issue for me however my girlfriend and my sister have done this hundreds of times. so it would be extremely useful in their case.
        • 3 Years Ago
        My mom has arthritis in her wrist and she loves her keyless start dearly. One day she wanted to go somewhere and she couldn't turn the key on her car. She had to fashion a lever with a butter knife or something. But now all she has to do is push a button and she's good to go.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ airchompers

        Her arthritis has her too weak to turn a normal ignition, but somehow she's just fine to operate all of the other necessary functions of the car - gear selector, parking brake and steering wheel?

      • 3 Years Ago
      Recently bought a vespa in the us, the underseat storage has a sticker saying no pets. the sticker only comes on models destined for the us. No other country gets the sticker.

      Stories like these are the reason.
      • 3 Years Ago
      What if the citizen rather than forgetting to turn off the engine by pressing the button, had left the key with the engine running, also denounce the manufacturer
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's a sad situation but I think it's stupid to sue Toyota for this. I'll actually defend Toyota for a change. Every automaker's keyless system works like this. I mean it might be a good idea for idiots like this to add a feature that if the key has left the car for over 15 minutes while being in Park then it should cut off. I don't see any wrong doing by Toyota. It has systems that beeps when you get out of the car, not to mention all of the headlights might have been on, exhaust etc.

      • 3 Years Ago
      Report: idiots to blame for carbon monoxide deaths.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Nerd moment, but I have to say it: The title incorrectly refers to "CO2"-related deaths. Carbon monoxide, the poisonous gas in car exhaust which prevents your body from absorbing oxygen into the bloodstream, is abbreviated CO. CO2 is carbon dioxide and is utterly harmless unless it's present in such great concentrations as to displace all oxygen gas in the vicinity. The deaths described in the article are related to CO, not CO2.
      • 3 Years Ago
      This blog is brought to you by the fine folks at Dewey/Cheetum & Howe.
      • 3 Years Ago
      2011 Darwin Awards just got a nominee
      • 3 Years Ago
      Operator error, simple as that. She should be sued by the guy's family for being ignorant and stupid. Seriously, how do you NOT forget to shut off your engine? And how do you NOT know its still running?
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't want to pre-judge, but I don't think this is even possible. Cars emit such a low amount of Carbon Monoxide that it actually would take the whole tank of gas to even begin to affect you. Fifteen years ago, I read a study about how suicides, where the person tried to kill themselves by letting the car run in the garage while sitting in it, failed because new cars simply didn't produce enough CO anymore. With cars today being even cleaner, I can't imagine how this could happen.

      I don't know, I think we're not getting the whole story here.
      • 3 Years Ago
      "the NY man is suing Toyota for his wrongful death" - I'd imagine that would be a hard case for him to win, particularly if he's dead
        • 3 Years Ago
        Maybe you should read the whole sentence before trying to be smart? I'll help you out;

        "In one case, the family of a Whitestone, New York man is suing Toyota for his wrongful death."

      • 3 Years Ago
      Guys, it's just a smoke screen. Maybe she's afraid she might get sued for negligence by her boyfriend's family so she's taking preemptive strike. I'm sorry there was a loss of life and demise half-useful brain but geez!
      Heck, I'm getting the best lawyer to sue the heck out of evolution for not weeding out stupid. Btw, anyone seen evolution? Is it a he or a she? Anyway, it better be loaded because I'm coming...
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