Monday, September 21, 2015

Editorial: Why do Responsible People Have to Suffer Due to the Stupidity of a Few?

Keyless ignitions are starting to become the norm in more and more cars these days. Is it a necessary technology? Probably not. We have survived decades without keyless ignitions by simply sticking the key into the ignition and turning it. As technology advances though, keyless ignitions, and their wireless key fobs, are soon going to replace the good old fashioned keyed ignition in short order. Is this going to end up being a problem? For some, it apparently already is.

Those of us that keep up with the latest news in the automotive world have probably already heard about the lawsuit against 10 automakers over keyless ignitions. The reason behind the lawsuit? Apparently the plaintiffs claim the system is dangerous because drivers, for whatever reason, believe the engine is supposed to automatically shut itself off after leaving the vehicle. Because engines do not shut themselves off, a car parked in a garage can cause carbon monoxide build up, leading to carbon monoxide poisoning. The plaintiffs are asking auto manufacturers to implement an auto shut-off feature on all cars and are seeking damages from the 10 automakers listed in the suit. Also of note, the lawyers working with the plaintiffs are seeking class action status from this law suit.

I have been around keyless ignitions since 2004, when my folks brought home their 2004 Acura RL. At the time, keyless ignition was very uncommon, and Acura was one of the first companies to implement it into the second generation RL. Since then, at least one vehicle in our household has always had keyless ignition, and not once did my parents, myself, or East Brother ever make the assumption that the engine would shut itself off when we left the car. Why? First off, the sales people we worked with never once mentioned "auto engine shut-off" as a feature. Two, at least one person in our family does what I like to call "RTFM," which is short for "read the f***ing manual," when we get a new car. In all of the cars with keyless ignition my family has owned since 2004, not once in any of the manuals does it ever mention that the engine will automatically shut off if you leave the car.

But OK, let us say that you do not believe that the engine automatically shuts off, but you forget to shut the engine off. For starters, all cars with keyless ignition systems have a warning system if you are about to leave the car with the engine still running. This could range anywhere from a series of beeps and squawks to the car straight out honking at you. The noise is often times supplemented by flashing lights for those that need visual cues along with the audio ones. If all else fails, let us not forget, THE ENGINE IS STILL RUNNING! If you are driving a conventional gasoline or diesel powered vehicle, you will most likely still hear the engine running when you exit the vehicle. That alone should be your first indication that you forgot to turn the damn thing off. "Oh, but I drive a hybrid or electric vehicle, so I won't hear the engine." For starters, if you drive an electric, what are you complaining about? Your car does not produce carbon monoxide. At most, you will end up with a dead battery when you go to start your car again. As for hybrid drivers? Just listen for the audio cues basically screaming at you to turn the damn thing off.

To me, this whole situation screams of "cash grab." For as long as keyless ignitions have been available, never has any manufacturer claimed that their car will automatically shut off if you leave the vehicle and walk a certain distance away from it. In the past, before keyless ignitions, most people were smart enough to remember to shut off the car and take the keys with them. Why is it that as technology becomes more advanced, people seem to become more and more careless and stupid? And why is it that the careless and stupid ones are always the most vocal ones?

For more information about the lawsuit and the parties involved, please check out this article from autoblog: 10 Automakers Sued Over Keyless Ignitions

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