The ability to start your car from the outside with the push of a button seems like a minor convenience. When the weather is bad, it can save you a few uncomfortable moments inside your vehicle. Keyless ignition systems also have safety benefits and can reduce the risk of having your car stolen. Unfortunately, there are serious drawbacks to keyless ignition. In the most severe instances, keyless ignition mishaps can kill. Several deaths have been linked to these systems since they became popular.
A physical key makes it much more difficult to accidentally leave your car running. Keyless ignitions, combined with relatively quiet vehicles, can cause owners to leave their cars idling for long periods of time. While the car idles, it releases carbon monoxide, among other pollutants. If the car is parked in a garage attached to your home, the carbon monoxide can build up without you realizing it. If you fall asleep with your car running in an attached garage, you might never realize your mistake.
Keyless ignition systems need to do a better job of warning drivers when they leave the vehicle running. The only warning on many vehicles is a dashboard light. Some make a noise that can be heard inside the vehicle. Only a handful provide a warning that would likely draw the attention of someone who has left the vehicle.
Given the technology available, it seems odd that a car could be left running for a day or more without warning its owner. There are very few situations in which an owner would want their unoccupied vehicle to run all night. With minor modifications, car companies could correct this flaw and make keyless ignition much safer. The failure to do so has already caused a number of tragic deaths and will likely continue to do so. If you own a vehicle with keyless ignition, you need to be aware of the potential danger and take steps to address it.
Source: AJC.com, "Keyless ignitions tied to deaths, injuries," by Jodie Fleischer, 2 November 2015