As stated by Jacob Bigelow in 1829, “Technology is about the principles, processes, and nomenclatures of the more conspicuous arts, particularly those which involve applications of science, and which may be considered useful, by promoting the benefit of society, together with the emolument of those who pursue them”. Technology has been a driving force for development in our part of the world. Recent advancement in better understanding of ‘problems’ has resulted in stimulated solutions around the world. One such technological advancement is the keyless entry feature in our passenger vehicles. First introduced by German automaker Mercedes-Benz as a luxury feature back in 1998, the keyless entry feature has also been called the ‘smart lock’ because of its convenience to the driver of not have to manually turn the keys and start the ignition of the car.
On a summer morning in 2017, Mr Fred Schaub parked his car in his garage attached to his Florida home and went into the house with the wireless key fob believing that the car engine has stopped. Mr Fred was found dead the next morning on his bed with red patches on his body. Evidently, this happened because carbon monoxide from his car flooded his house while he slept. In 2014, three Delhi based businessman was found motionless after Carbon Monoxide leaked from there car’s air conditioning system leaving all three dead.
Carbon Monoxide scientifically termed as ‘CO’ is an odourless, colourless gas which comes out of the engine exhaust of the car. The effect of carbon monoxide on human health is immense. Breathing in the carbon monoxide filled air could result in immediate death of the individual or severe brain damage and memory loss. ‘CO’ cutoff body’s ability to retain oxygen levels in the blood resulting in choking.
Every advancement comes with its pros and cons. The introduction of keyless made life easier but also resulted in thousands of cases around the globe where people parked the car in there garage in the evening and forgot to switch off the engine. Keyless entry allows the user to push start/stop their car engines without physically using the key to do so. This resulted in carbon monoxide exhausted in the house all through the night and ultimately inhaled by the occupants. Being an odourless and colourless gas, it becomes difficult for people to trace the poisonous gas in the air.
Several years ago, the world’s leading automotive standards group, the Society of Automotive Engineers, called for features like a series of beeps to alert drivers that cars were still running without the key fob in or near the car, and in some cases to shut the engine off automatically. But no defined laws are made to safeguard such incidents till date. Regulators are relying on automakers to bring solutions to this and add features to prevent such incidents.
During past decade, Indian auto market has also seen an immense rise in the sales of cars with ‘keyless’ entry and push-button start/stop feature. And as in the world, this poses an immense health risk to the car buyers in India. With no mandatory regulation in place, it is advised to keep a cautious check and take below-mentioned steps to prevent any mishappening:
- Never keep your car engine running in an enclosed environment such as your garage.
- Make sure to check if exhaust pipes of the engine are free from blockages such as sand or snow.
- Never sleep in a car with the engine running while parked in an enclosed environment where fumes can’t escape freely.
- Keep a regular check for holes and escapes in your car floor that can allow fumes to enter the cabin.