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  • Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers Discuss Safety Interlocks: An Important Safety Feature

    By Peter M. Patton, Esq.

    Many late model cars lack a needed safety feature if they use a keyless starting system.  Your car can run away if it is turned off in a gear other than “Park”, among other dangers.

    Safety interlocks serve an important safety purpose.   An interlock typically is used to prevent a user from using a machine in an unsafe state.   If you use a microwave, you are using an interlock.   Microwave ovens include an interlock switch to disable the microwave source if the door is opened.  Household washing machines also include an interlock switch to stop the machine from operating if the lid is lifted.

    Before keyless starting systems, an interlock required a car’s driver to move the automatic transmission into “Park” before she could remove a traditional key from the key hole. The purpose of this mandated interlock was to ensure that the car’s transmission was in “Park” before the driver turned off the ignition.    Otherwise, there was potential for the car rolling away and running over persons nearby.

    With many new keyless starting systems, however, you can leave a keyless ignition car with the engine off and the transmission in “Neutral” or “Drive.”

    The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a compliance investigation into recent cars to determine if their keyless ignition systems comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.   Since 1992, a federal safety standard has required cars with automatic transmissions with a “Park” position to have a locking system that prevented removal of the key unless the transmission was locked in “Park” or became locked in “Park” as a result of removing the key.

    Consumers with keyless ignition cars have complained to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about cars rolling away because drivers had forgotten to put the transmission in “Park.”

    With some vehicles, users can leave the vehicle running with the key fob still inside the vehicle. This dangerous feature poses the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning.  Recently, a couple in Florida died when carbon monoxide from their keyless Mercedes was left running.   Carbon monoxide, a deadly odorless and colorless gas, entered their home from an attached garage.    Keyless ignition systems are particularly dangerous since many cars are very quiet, and a driver may not perceive that the car continues to run.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is now calling for standardizing keyless ignition systems, and requiring an audible alert if the driver leaves the car with the engine running.  If you leave your car running without realizing it in your attached garage, there is a risk of death from carbon monoxide poisoning.

    Product liability cases often arise where a defective or poorly design product results in the death or serious injuries to a person.   Loved ones of a person killed due to an unreasonably dangerous product can potentially cover damages in a case against manufacturers of poorly designed products.  Galfand Berger Products Liability attorneys are very familiar with safety interlocks from many cases fighting for product safety, over the years.

    Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers of Galfand Berger Represent Victims Injured by Dangerous and Defective Products

    If have questions regarding safety interlocks , or if you or a loved one has been injured by a dangerous product, call the Philadelphia defective product lawyers at Galfand Berger at 1-800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online. Our personal injury lawyers have handled all types of product liability cases resulting in substantial verdicts and settlements.