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Old 02-11-2011, 08:51 AM   #1
AVANTI R5
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Default Investigating a Hazard of Electronic Car Keys

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CONCERN over the implications of a 2006 revision to a federal safety standard is spurring regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to reconsider their change. At issue is whether the change, which redefined what constitutes a car’s ignition key, has effectively increased the possibility of accidents caused by a vehicle rolling away.

The matter involves the so-called smart key fobs used in millions of vehicles to replace conventional metal keys. Instead of pins and tumblers, these devices use an electronic code that enables a vehicle to be started either by pressing a button or inserting the fob into a slot on the dashboard.

The problem is that under the revised N.H.T.S.A. standard for such devices, the vehicle’s engine can be shut off and the key fob removed without the automatic transmission being shifted to the Park position. A spokesman for the safety agency, Jose Alberto Ucles, said in an e-mail exchange that the chief concerns behind the fresh look at the standard “are vehicle roll-away, theft, possible carbon monoxide poisoning and shutting off moving vehicles in the event of an emergency.”

Since 1992, automakers have been required under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 114 to prevent the key from being removed from the ignition unless the transmission is in Park, a measure intended to prevent the “accidental roll-away of motor vehicles.”

But as electronic fobs became more popular, the agency expanded its definition of the key beyond the traditional physical object to include the electronic codes of smart fobs. This change would prove an unpleasant surprise for some drivers.

In late August 2008, after parking her 2009 Nissan Murano on a slight incline, Jeanette Taylor of Washington Parish, La., got out of the vehicle to retrieve a package from the back seat. Mrs. Taylor sensed that the vehicle was moving.

“I thought it was rolling a little bit and then I thought, well, I was just imagining things,” she said. “There is no way it could move.”
Mrs. Taylor, 67, said she assumed the Murano was like all the vehicles she had driven for decades — that it had to be in Park to remove the key.
When the Murano began to speed up, she opened the driver’s door and tried to climb in. “But it knocked me down,” she said in an interview. “I was afraid if I didn’t grab something it would pull me under the car.”
She was dragged into the street. A passer-by jumped into the vehicle and stopped it, but the tire stopped on her leg, causing serious injury.
Mrs. Taylor’s Murano is not the only vehicle whose key can be removed without putting the transmission in Park.

David Champion, director of the Consumers Union auto test center in Connecticut, checked 11 vehicles recently purchased by Consumer Reports magazine for testing. He said that seven, including 2010 and 2011 models from Hyundai, Infiniti and Lincoln, allowed the engine to be turned off with the gearshift lever in Neutral or Drive.

But because there were audible and electronic warnings, Mr. Champion said, he did not see this as “too much of an issue.” In e-mails, spokesmen for Hyundai, Nissan (Infiniti’s parent) and Ford said that their vehicles complied with federal standards.

In 2009, Mrs. Taylor was part of a class-action suit against Nissan filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The suit argued that Nissan’s system did not comply with the intent of the federal safety standard — preventing roll-away accidents — and was endangering consumers.

But Nissan argued that its vehicles were safe and complied with the federal standard, and the court agreed. Last September, Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong dismissed the case, saying the standard was clear: an electronic code can be a key. In her view, the Nissans were in compliance.
When the revised standard was adopted, the agency’s deputy administrator was Jacqueline Glassman. In an interview, Ms. Glassman, who has since retired from the agency to work for a Washington law firm, said that while the engine could be turned off and the fob removed from a vehicle without the transmission being in Park, there was no violation of the standard because “the key is the electronic code” and that code is still in the vehicle’s system.

“It doesn’t pass the common-sense test,” said Sean Kane, the president of Safety Research and Strategies, a Massachusetts consulting firm that provides research for plaintiff’s attorneys.

The San Francisco lawyer working for the plaintiffs in the Nissan suit, Scott P. Nealey, said that N.H.T.S.A.’s stance of accepting the electronic code as a key undermined the standard’s established goal. Mr. Nealey pointed out that many automakers addressed the problem with an electronic safeguard requiring the transmission to be in Park before the key is removed.

A spokeswoman for the safety agency, Karen Aldana, said in an e-mail that automakers originally asked the agency whether an electronic code could be considered a key and they were told that was allowed. “N.H.T.S.A. doesn’t wish to discourage innovation when it comes to automotive technology,” she wrote.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/13/au...er=rss&emc=rss
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Old 02-11-2011, 08:58 AM   #2
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blah blah blah, stupid people blaming car companies for their inability to pay attention to what they are doing.

I feel for people who are getting run over by their own cars, that's sad, but at the same time, put hand brake on, don't just trust the transmission to hold your car.

Manual or automatic.

I await the day there is a rule that a key can't be removed from the ignition if the parking brake is not applied....
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Old 02-11-2011, 09:02 AM   #3
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Government regulations coming to a car near you in the name of safety. The more the government thinks for us, the less we think for ourselves.
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Old 02-11-2011, 09:33 AM   #4
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Great. Now the industry doesn't have to kill off the manual transmission, the government will...in the name of safety of course.
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:11 AM   #5
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Actually if everyone was forced to Drive a manual transmission =
Everyone would know what needed to be done to ensure "roll-aways" didn't happen
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:45 AM   #6
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Actually if everyone was forced to Drive a manual transmission =
Everyone would know what needed to be done to ensure "roll-aways" didn't happen
People are too dumb to safely work an auto. God help us if they were forced into a manual.
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:55 AM   #7
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I don't see this as a case of over-regulation. maybe overly specific or poorly worded regulation, but i don't see an issue with the government stating that a car needs to be in park to remove the key.

Also, the lady didn't put the car in park. How is that going to be fixed by adding ANOTHER step to the whole 'get out of the car' process, namely applying parking brake? She'd just forget that too.

I drive a manual everyday, and an auto most days when the weather permits too. I never set the parking brake in my auto trans car. My car has never rolled away. I just know that sometimes i shouldn't park on an incline without using it.
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:58 AM   #8
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Mrs. Taylor’s Murano is not the only vehicle whose key can be removed without putting the transmission in Park.
It's true. Millions of vehicles with manual transmissions allow their keys to be removed without said transmissions being in Park. Weird!
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Old 02-11-2011, 12:12 PM   #9
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It seems that my car is missing Park position. Whom may I sue?

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Old 02-11-2011, 12:25 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by justincredible View Post
People are too dumb to safely work an auto. God help us if they were forced into a manual.
Mechanics and clutch manufacturers would love it, though!
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Old 02-11-2011, 12:27 PM   #11
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It's similar to not being able to start the vehicle without your foot on the brake.

Sadly, the majority of people on the planet are morons that end up dictating what the intelligent can and cannot do, since the government feels the need to save the morons from their own stupid, self-destructive tendencies.
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Old 02-11-2011, 12:29 PM   #12
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As idiotic as the whole situation is, I wouldn't be opposed to just going back to regular keys. Never had a problem with them. Although I can see how woman might really like the keyless cars, with those bottomless, can't find crap in them anyway, purses.
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Old 02-11-2011, 12:32 PM   #13
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I don't see why they cant prevent the engines from shutting off and fob removed if the transmission isnt in park? Isnt that what the ECU is for?....
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Old 02-11-2011, 01:12 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by JuggernautTCW View Post
I don't see why they cant prevent the engines from shutting off and fob removed if the transmission isnt in park? Isnt that what the ECU is for?....
That would be a worse safety problem, especially for cases like the Toyota stuck-throttle cars. If your car is running away, one of the easiest ways to stop it is to shut it off. Shifting it into Park at highway speed isn't exactly a great idea, and probably isn't even possible with most automatics.

Plus, how are you going to enforce that on push-start type cars where all you need is to have the fob in the car. Lock the doors as soon as you start the engine, and don't unlock them again until the car is in park?

I see this as yet another non-issue where the government is going to end up creating more useless regulations due to the stupidity of a handful of people.
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Old 02-11-2011, 02:27 PM   #15
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I know the touch starts on NISSANS will not turn off the vehicle unless your on the brake and in park
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Old 02-11-2011, 02:55 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
If your car is running away, one of the easiest ways to stop it is to shut it off.
It's also a dangerous idea, Chuck - don't get grouped in with the non-running runaway car owners in the OP. The best thing to do is throw it in Neutral. If some tool turns the key to OFF, the column locks and they're along for the ride. May as well put your arms up rollercoaster style!

OT: Still waiting on the verdict that the "stuck pedal" thing isn't another '80's Audi wrong-pedal scenario.
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Old 02-11-2011, 02:55 PM   #17
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I know the touch starts on NISSANS will not turn off the vehicle unless your on the brake and in park
That's crazy. I can't believe any engineer would allow a car to be programmed that way. That would be enough to keep me from buying a particular car. If all else fails, you should be able to shut the motor off in any car without having to bring the car to a stop first.
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Old 02-11-2011, 05:12 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LetItSnow View Post
It's true. Millions of vehicles with manual transmissions allow their keys to be removed without said transmissions being in Park. Weird!
Indeed. Why do they have a rule for AT cars and not MT? I don't see a need for any rule. If you are that clueless, you deserve to have your car run you over.
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Old 02-11-2011, 05:28 PM   #19
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just make it like old days "park" then remove car key the "only way"
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Old 02-12-2011, 12:49 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Italiano View Post
Actually if everyone was forced to Drive a manual transmission =
Everyone would know what needed to be done to ensure "roll-aways" didn't happen
You sure about that?

http://www.reddit.com/r/cars/comment...while_parking/
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