COMMUTE

The dangers of keyless ignition systems

Comment
Decrease Increase Text size

Harry Pitt was a respected former superintendent of Montgomery County Schools. At 81, the grandfather lifted weights three days a week, golfed with his boys and was full of life.

It ended one night in December when he parked his Infiniti in his Rockville garage and went to bed.

His vehicle is one of more than a million on the road with a keyless ignition system. Pitt took his key fob inside but apparently forgot to turn off the car. It was a deadly mistake that filled his house with carbon monoxide.

The same thing happened in a home in Florida in 2010, where a 29-year-old woman died. Another person died in New York in similar circumstances.

All three deaths were caused by carbon monoxide poisoning in which a push-to-start car was left running in a garage.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is now calling for standardizing keyless ignition systems, including an audible alert if the driver exits with the car running.

But Pitt's sons, Joel and Jeff, say that's not enough. They want the cars to automatically shut off if left running in park.

“I don't want this to happen to anybody else,” Jeff Pitts says.

In a statement, Infiniti said: "While we believe the design and engineering of this system is state of the art, we also support NHTSA's efforts to standardize keyless ignitions in motor vehicles and are currently reviewing the details of the proposal."

If you want to weigh in, the public comment period continues until March 12th.

A final note: Pitt did not have a carbon monoxide detector in his home. Having one could have saved his life.

Would you like to contribute to this story? Join the discussion.

Recommended For You
comments powered by Disqus