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Senators Introduces Legislation Pushing Automatic Shut-off of Keyless Ignition Systems

In a move hoped to pressure NHTSA to issue regulations, Senators Richard Blumenthal and Edward Markey introduced proposed legislation on Friday to require automatic shutoffs for vehicles with keyless ignition.

After a New York Times article in May 2018 titled Deadly Convenience: Keyless Cars and Their Carbon Monoxide Toll, Senators Blumenthal and Markey sent a letter to NHTSA urging NHTSA to undertake an investigation and issue rules related to keyless ignitions.  On Friday, Senators Blumenthal and Markey introduced the Protecting Americans from the Risks of Keyless Ignition Technology (PARK IT) Act.  Senator Blumenthal describes the legislation as protecting drivers and families “from injury and death by finalizing some basic safety standards that compel automakers to address the risk of carbon monoxide and rollaways associated with keyless ignitions.”

NHTSA currently features a page for Keyless Ignition System safety, with tips for drivers with keyless ignitions.  However, there is currently no regulation specifically on keyless ignition. NTHSA introduced a draft rule in 2011 regarding keyless ignition, but the rule has not been finalized.  At a hearing in May, 2018, NHTSA’s deputy administrator Heidi King declined to commit to implementing the proposed rule.

In the meantime, many auto manufacturers have implemented their own safeguards.  GM and Ford began implementing automatic engine shut down in MY 2013 vehicles, and GM ultimately expanded it to all vehicles in 2017.  According to Automotive News, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers issued a statement noting that  automakers have implemented recommended practices of the Society of Automotive Engineers regarding “operating logic, indication of vehicle ignition/control status and the physical control characteristics of keyless ignition systems.”

In light of these differing views, it remains to be seen whether the PARK IT legislation will ultimately become law, or will merely serve as a prod to NHTSA to take a closer look at keyless ignition.

© 2020 Foley & Lardner LLPNational Law Review, Volume IX, Number 57


About this Author

Lauren M. Loew business law attorney Foley and Larner Law Firm

Lauren M. Loew is a partner and litigation lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP and a member of the Business Litigation & Dispute Resolution Practice and Automotive Industry Team. Ms. Loew represents clients on matters including products liability defense, commercial contract disputes, supply chain management, and post-acquisition disputes. Ms. Loew represents clients in state and federal courts and arbitrations around the country. She is co-editor of Dashboard Insights, the Automotive Industry Team blog.