Automakers Sued Because Carbon Monoxide Poisoning is Their Fault

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Let’s get something out of the way to make sure everyone reading this doesn’t accidentally kill themselves with carbon monoxide poisoning. Do not ever leave your car running in your garage. That gas builds up and can kill you. You must turn off your car before getting out and walking away. Somehow there were people out there that didn’t know this and they left their cars running in their garages. How is this the fault of the automakers?

I can’t even get my head wrapped around this one. This is basic motor vehicle safety. Do not drive into pedestrians. Do not drive through red lights. Do not leave you car on in a garage. Ever. It’s how people commit suicide for crying out loud!

According to Automotive News, a lawsuit has been filed against automakers because of carbon monoxide poisoning in cars with keyless ignitions. They claim the feature is responsible for the deaths of 13 people.

Keyless ignitions are becoming more common and they’re a great convenience. Instead of having to dig your keys out of your pocket and insert them into a switch, the proximity sensor in the key allows you to just push the button on the dash and start the car. The lawsuit’s issue isn’t how the cars turn on, but that people need to turn them off, too.

They say people thought their cars would just shut off when they stopped and got out with their key fobs in their pockets. This means people ended up leaving their cars running in enclosed spaces like garages, some of which were attached to homes.

The lawsuit says automakers are negligent and that cars should have an automatic shut-off feature. They of course want compensatory and punitive damages, too. The list of companies is huge and includes BMW, Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, Ford, Honda, Kia, and basically every company that makes cars with remote starters.

The idea of having some kind of auto shut-off feature if the key fob is out of the car for a certain amount of time isn’t a bad idea. I can get behind that in the interest of safety. Blaming automakers for human error and demanding money because someone didn’t think to turn off their car in their own garage seems ridiculous.

There simply has to be a point where common sense rules. There are over 5 million cars equipped with keyless ignitions. There have been 13 carbon monoxide related deaths. Those numbers tell us the vast majority of people are not confused by the system. Human error does not constitute a manufacturing defect.

Once upon a time, McDonald’s was sued because someone burned themselves when they spilled hot coffee in their lap. Now we all roll our eyes at the ridiculous warning labels on products. How soon before there’s a giant yellow sticker permanently affixed to the dashboard reminding us to turn off our cars?

Nicole Wakelin

Nicole Wakelin