Tina Smith

United States Senator for Minnesota

Sen. Tina Smith Presses Top Transportation Safety Agency Over Troubling Deaths Caused by Keyless VehiclesSen. Tina Smith Presses Top Transportation Safety Agency Over Troubling Deaths Caused by Keyless Vehicles

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Senator Calls for Safety Standards to Protect Families, Prevent Potential Carbon Monoxide Poisoning by Keyless Ignition Vehicles

WASHINGTON, D.C. [05/15/18]—Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith pressed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for action to protect families across the country following reports of numerous deaths caused by keyless ignition vehicles.

Over the Mother’s Day weekend, a New York Times report detailed how over two dozen people have been killed—and dozens more injured—due to carbon monoxide poisoning related to exposure from exhaust by a keyless ignition vehicle. Sen. Tina Smith finds it concerning that while technology in the automotive industry continues to progress, safety standards and action to address potential hazards have not kept pace.  

You can read a copy of her letter by clicking here.

“Today, more than half of the 17 million new vehicles sold in the United States annually operate a keyless ignition. This technology has caused vehicle operators to inadvertently leave a vehicle running in an enclosed area, like an attached garage, which then fills their home with poisonous levels of carbon monoxide gas,” wrote Sen. Smith to the Deputy Administrator of the NHTSA. “Since 2006, reports found at least 28 deaths and 45 injuries due to carbon monoxide poisoning related to accidents resulting from a vehicle with keyless ignition. These accidents, which could be prevented, have resulted in numerous deaths of Americans or caused serious and permanent brain injury.

“The NHTSA has postponed instituting regulations regarding keyless ignition control systems, and in that period, 21 people have lost their lives. I urge the NHTSA to promptly reconsider a rulemaking to establish safety standards of vehicles with keyless ignition control systems to ensure meaningful consumer protections. Furthermore, any proposed rule should cover both new and existing operating vehicles to ensure the safety of the millions of Americans who already own vehicles with keyless ignition controls. Instituting strong and enforceable standards could stop serious injuries and save American lives.”

You can read the full text of today’s letter by clicking here or reading below.

May 15, 2018

Heidi King, Deputy Administrator
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
United States Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20590

Dear Deputy Administrator King:

I am writing to express serious concerns regarding the numerous deaths of Americans due to keyless ignition systems. In 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA or the “administration”) initiated a rulemaking regarding keyless ignition control systems to address the issue of carbon monoxide poisoning. In that proposal, the administration sought to standardize safety precautions relating to the operating of keyless ignition controls. Despite the NHTSA referring to keyless ignitions as a “clear safety problem,” the administration has yet to finalize this rulemaking or take further action to institute strong safety standards regarding the operation of keyless ignition controls.  

The number of vehicles manufactured with keyless ignition technology is growing, and so is the number of lives lost and injuries suffered due to carbon monoxide as a result of exhaust from vehicles with keyless ignition controls. Today, more than half of the 17 million new vehicles sold in the United States annually operate a keyless ignition. This technology has caused vehicle operators to inadvertently leave a vehicle running in an enclosed area, like an attached garage, which then fills their home with poisonous levels of carbon monoxide gas. Since 2006, reports found at least 28 deaths and 45 injuries due to carbon monoxide poisoning related to accidents resulting from a vehicle with keyless ignition. These accidents, which could be prevented, have resulted in numerous deaths of Americans or caused serious and permanent brain injury.

The NHTSA has postponed instituting regulations regarding keyless ignition control systems, and in that period, 21 people have lost their lives. I urge the NHTSA to promptly reconsider a rulemaking to establish safety standards of vehicles with keyless ignition control systems to ensure meaningful consumer protections. Furthermore, any proposed rule should cover both new and existing operating vehicles to ensure the safety of the millions of Americans who already own vehicles with keyless ignition controls. Instituting strong and enforceable standards could stop serious injuries and save American lives. Please respond to my request within 30 days with a plan of action detailing how the NHTSA will move forward.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

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Issues: 

Washington, D.C. Office

309 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-5641
 

State Offices

Moorhead Office
819 Center Avenue
Suite 2A
Moorhead, MN 56560
Phone (218) 284-8721
 

Duluth Office
515 W 1st Street
Suite 104
Duluth, MN 55802
Phone (218) 722-2390
 

State Offices

Saint Paul
60 Plato Blvd. East
Suite 220
Saint Paul, MN 55107
Phone (651) 221-1016
 

Rochester
1202-1/2 7th Street NW
Suite 213
Rochester, MN  55901
Phone (507) 288-2003