Keyless ignition cars can be a quiet safety threat

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - New cars are built to run quiet, but some experts say they're a little too quiet. Last month, a man in Tampa died after forgetting he left his car running in the garage.

Carbon monoxide poisoning kills a few hundred people a year in the US. But in one of the most recent cases, the man had a keyless start in his car. Huntsville fire marshal Dan Wilkerson says that's a problem that's easy to overlook.

Millions of working Americans look for convenience and efficiency with their cars and trucks. At the push of a button, you're off and running.

"You may not remember to push the button to stop the car before you go into the house," Wilkerson said.

According to Edmunds, more than 60 percent of new manufactured cars and trucks come with a keyless ignition.

"If you're in your house asleep, you may not be able to wake up," Wilkerson said.

A few hundred people die from carbon monoxide poisoning in the U.S. every year. "It blocks your cells from getting oxygen, which in turn, kills blood cells and damages vital organs," Wilkerson said.

Around a few dozen of those are caused by cars left running.

It doesn't mean you're asking for trouble if you drive a car with a keyless start, you just have to remember to turn it off. But every minute your car is running in the garage and you don't realize it, your garage is filling up with carbon monoxide. That's enough to make you sick or kill you, it all depends on parts per million. 400 parts per million can make you throw up, 1,000 and you can lose consciousness. Over 6,000 and you could die.

"I recommend you buy a carbon monoxide detector. It's not very expensive, but it's worth a lot if you have an issue in your home," Wilkerson said.

Wilkerson says thankfully, there hasn't been a carbon monoxide death related to keyless ignitions in Huntsville.

The matter is being talked about in Washington, D.C. This week, Senator Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut introduced what's called the 'PARK IT' Act, which stands for 'Protecting Americans from the Risks of Keyless Ignition Technology.'

If passed, new cars and trucks would be required to automatically shut off after a certain length of time.

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