Today’s video demonstrates how an engineer’s work is never done.
Pushbutton ignition systems, which are enabled by a fob that can be carried in a driver’s pocket, use an RFID signal to start a vehicle. So instead of turning a key, all you have to do is push a button to turn the engine on and off.
The problem, which was highlighted in a recent New York Times report, is that since 2006 28 people have died from carbon monoxide poisoning after forgetting to turn off car engines that used a keyless system.
The combination of human forgetfulness and smoother running, quieter engines are seen as the main culprits – particularly when operating a gasoline-electric hybrid where the engine might be off, but the ignition is not.
The deaths are attributed to a build-up of carbon monoxide in the garage or structure housing the vehicle, which is often attached to the residence. The result is that the vehicle owners essentially poison themselves due to those emissions seeping in the home. This has prompted several safety advocate groups to campaign for regulations that address this … defect?
Some tried to press the issue with a class-action lawsuit in 2015 against all the major automakers. GM recalled 64,000 of their hybrid Volt vehicles as a result, and embedded a device that shuts the vehicle off if it’s been idling for too long. Ford implemented an audible alert that sounds if the door opens while the engine is running.
The suit was later dismissed, but newer vehicles offer a number of warnings from tones to LCD messages as a result.
However, safety advocate groups haven’t given up the quest to make such precautions regulated, similar to how the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration mandates all new vehicles to provide backup cameras.
The Society of Automotive Engineers latched on to the cause and joined forces with the NHTSA to champion such regulations. Not surprisingly, that was met with opposition from the automotive industry, and remains in legislative limbo.