Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI) has issued a Letter of Concern to Toyota Motor Corporation about carbon monoxide poisoning incidents affecting the deaf and those with hearing loss. More than a dozen deaths have been reported due to cars with keyless ignitions not being shut off when the occupant leaves the vehicle. The obvious issue for those with hearing loss is that they can’t hear the car’s engine if it is left running.
When parking the car in an enclosed space such as a garage, some people tend to forget that the car will not turn off if they do not press the button to shut off the engine. As a result, if the garage's air is shared with the rest of the house, the carbon monoxide can spread into the house, potentially jeopardizing all within.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed a rule that would require manufacturers to install an audible alert in vehicles with keyless ignitions to notify drivers that the engine is still running. Under the rule, an alert of at least 85 decibels would sound if the key fob is removed from the car while the engine is still running. The sound level would be similar to that of a smoke alarm and audible both inside and outside the vehicle.
TDI has taken action by issuing a formal letter outlining its concerns to Toyota. A copy of the letter was sent to other major automobile manufacturers and to the U.S. Department of Transportation.