It seems like it was just a few years ago that every rap song had something to stay about the push to start ignition, now having one is ubiquitous. What isn’t well known, however, is that push-button ignition systems introduce new dangers into operating a vehicle.
If you have a push-button ignition vehicle you’ve probably run into an instance where you jumped out of the car while it was running only to have the vehicle start beeping at you. That’s a safety feature. The car knows you left the vehicle running and that’s potentially a dangerous situation.
Push-button ignitions are now present in half of new vehicles which has safety groups pressing for a solution to a growing problem: drivers inadvertently leaving their vehicles running in the garage.
The New York Times reports that 28 deaths and 45 injuries have been attributed to accidental carbon monoxide exposure stemming from push-button-equipped vehicles left running in enclosed spaces. There is no official central record keeping of such incidents, so the author had to collect reports dating back to 2006.
Currently there is no consensus on how to solve the problem.
In 2006, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration added a rule mandating that push-button vehicles emit a warning to alert the driver. But advocates argue that didn’t go far enough. In 2011, the Society of Automotive Engineers pushed the NHTSA for more agressive rules requiring audible and visual warnings as well as suggesting an auto-shutdown feature. The NHTSA issued a proposal calling for more beeps, but issued no new rules or regulations.
Responding to a query from safety groups in March, the agency stated, “Once N.H.T.S.A. has finished its review and determined the best path forward, N.H.T.S.A. will take appropriate action.”
Automatically shutting the car off after the key is no longer around seems to be the logical solution here.