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NHTSA urged to release new safety rules for keyless vehicles

Oklahoma drivers with keyless cars and trucks may not be aware that the vehicles have a dangerous flaw that could kill them. Unlike traditional vehicles that turn off when the key is removed from the ignition, keyless vehicles keep running when the driver exits with the electronic key fob after forgetting to turn off the ignition manually. This has led to the deaths of at least 18 people who were overcome with carbon monoxide fumes after accidentally leaving their cars on in the garage, according to some reports. 

In 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration admitted that keyless vehicles posed a hazard, and recommended cheap, software-based fixes, such automatic engine turnoff and vehicle alarms. However, the agency has yet to issue any new safety regulations. As a result, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., is pushing federal regulators to speed up their response. 

The NHTSA is supposed to issue new regulations in February 2016 but has indicated that new safety measures will only apply to new vehicles. Casey is urging the agency to make the new rules also apply to the millions of keyless vehicles already on U.S. roads. However, some car manufacturers, including Nissan, have resisted adding alarms to their vehicles, claiming that the 85 decibel alerts suggested by federal regulators are too loud. Meanwhile, the families of several victims who died of carbon monoxide poisoning after leaving their keyless vehicles running have filed lawsuits against the responsible car manufacturers. 

Oklahoma residents who have been injured by a defective motor vehicle may have grounds to file an auto product liability lawsuit against the negligent manufacturer seeking compensation for damages. Likewise, families who have lost a loved one due to an automotive defect may be eligible to file a civil wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party. An attorney can be of assistance in preparing and filing these types of actions.