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It seems that so-called “Smart Keys” are turning out to be anything but smart. We are hearing more and more stories lately about how drivers are parking their cars in their garages and going into their houses, unaware that they’ve left their motor running. The tragic result is that this can lead to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.

Toyota vehicles with keyless ignitions have been implicated in at least two carbon monoxide deaths. Additionally, Toyota recently issued a Technical Service Bulletin stating that when two Smart Keys from different vehicles are in close proximity, electronic failures can occur:

“Some 2011 and 2012 Lexus models may exhibit a condition where the Smart Key system is inoperative when another vehicle’s Smart Key is in or near the vehicle. The following functions may also be affected: wireless remote operation, Smart access, and Smart start. The combination meter multi-information display may show the message: “Key not detected” when attempting to start vehicle and when driving.” –Safety Research & Strategies

That all this can happen when the car is off is bad enough. That it can happen when someone is driving is totally unacceptable. As for carbon monoxide poisoning, even one death from an inadvertently running car in the garage is too many. That companies like Toyota are not breaking any laws in the design of their keyless-entry vehicles indicates only that we desperately need updated laws to prevent Smart Key accidents. And car companies who design deadly products need to be held responsible for the harms they cause.

What is your personal experience with Smart Keys? Have you ever had a near-miss with one, or have you ever had your vehicle not work propertly because of a Smart Key conflict? If so, please post a comment and let us know.

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