Car Makers Sued Over Deadly Keyless Ignitions

Image Credit Chuck Kramer|
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Walked away from your car with the engine running? Maybe you too can sue and cash in. But I hope you're better than that.

• News: Current Events • News: Oddities • News: U.S.

Some of the world's largest auto makers are being sued for providing so called "deadly" keyless ignition switches. Sounds pretty bad, right? It does until you hear what a "deadly" ignition switch actually is.

First off, if you have an older and don't know what a keyless ignition switch is let me explain. A regular keyed ignition is an actual key that you put into an ignition switch and twist to start your car. By contrast, a keyless switch is just an electronic "fob" that you can keep in your pocket. You then enter your car and push a button to start it. The car knows the keyless fob is on your body and starts up.

The thing about a keyless ignition is that you can actually walk away from the car and the engine will keep running. Just the same as if you left your old fashioned key in the ignition. So when you park your car you hit the same "start / stop" button to stop the car. It's pretty simple stuff, at least for most people.

A lawsuit that was recently filed in Los Angeles about this issue ad the 28 plaintiffs say that these keyless car systems can cause injury or have "deadly" results. Why? Because you can walk away from the car with it still running and your car will continue to spew carbon monoxide out of the exhaust pipe. That carbon monoxide can be lethal if you inhale enough of it. The issue is no different with a keyed switch, only that you can "forget" to turn your car off more easily with a keyless fob. You keyword here is that "you" can forget.

The defendants in this case include BMW / MINI, Mercedes Benz, Fiat Chrylser, Ford, GM, and Honda. Apparantly, there have been 13 deaths and several injuries that have happened because of this issue.

But let's take a step back. Injury and death is no laughing matter. But are the car manufacturers really at fault here? I don't think so and this feels like another frivolous lawsuit in our lawsuit-happy-country we call America. Think I'm wrong? Let's go over some other examples.

1. Let's start with a normal keyed switch car. It's not the act of removing and walking away with the key that shuts the car off. I have to remember to turn the ignition switch to the off position to stop the engine. I can then take the key with or "forget" it in the ignition. Or I can forget to turn the key off and the car will keep running. If I did that I'd be at fault.

2. If you forgot to turn your car off and got out of it, you'd certainly here the engine running still, right? Or you'd notice the various lights and computer displays still running on the dashboard before you got out, right? There are plenty of signs that petroleum powered cars are running or not.

3. What about your gas oven and stove? There is no key for that but it's still your responsibility to turn them off when you're done. Why does car ownership require any less responsibility on your part as the end user?

4. What about lawn mowers and other gas powered lawn equipment. Most don't use keys but a simple button or switch that you, the operator, must remember to turn off in order to shut the engine off.

Life is full of inventions that make our lives easier but still require us to have some common sense. Better yet, using those items is a privilege and privileges come with responsibility.

We need to stop being so eager to hop on the lawsuit bandwagon in hopes of a quick cash out. Having a legal system is a good thing. It's great to know that when somebody is truly at fault we can take legal action to stop it from happening again. But abusing a legal system like this is a terrible thing and part of what is running the USA into the ground. It's also part of the reason all the other countries don't like us all that much.

Sometimes, when somebody gets hurt or killed it's actually their own fault. As I mentioned before, I don't take injury or death lightly and feel bad for those that got hurt or killed here. Still, at some point we need to take responsibility for our actions rather than always looking for blame elsewhere. We need to put an end to this kind of frivolous legal action.