Are keyless cars a convenience or a threat?

Serious safety concerned raised after deaths

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - August 25, 2010. It was the night that changed everything for competitive fisherman Tim Maddock.

"It's like a bad dream you don't wake up from," he tells the Contact 5 Investigators.

On that rainy summer night, Tim nearly lost his life. His girlfriend, Chasity Glisson, wasn't so lucky. She died after being discovered on her bathroom floor the next day. Tim was found clinging to life near the bed.

According to investigators, Tim and Chasity were poisoned by carbon monoxide after Chasity, accidentally, left her keyless ignition Lexus running in the garage of her Boca Raton town home.

"I miss her so much, " said Maddock, who remembers hearing Chasity fall to the ground before he blacked out.

8 months later Tim is talking publicly about what happened for the first time.

"Nobody deserves to go through this, especially not for making a mistake, didn't do anything wrong, didn't get into trouble, Left the car running, sorry."

Tim blames Chasity's death and his brush with death on keyless ignition systems or smart keys. The technology allows drivers to start and stop their engine with the push of a button.

The feature is now available in nearly 200 car models and is a top seller at Earl Stewart Toyota in North Palm Beach.

"It's cool," said Jason Stewart. "You hit a button and start your car. Honestly, I don't think I'd want a car without it," he said.

But the problem, some drivers say, is without a physical key, they're not always remembering to press the off button.

Since 2010, at least 3 people have died from carbon monoxide linked to keyless ignition cars. Chasity Glisson is among them. Toyota, the parent company of Lexus, is now being sued over it.

When the Contact 5 Investigators asked questions, the company stood by its design.

"Toyota's electronic key system fully complies with applicable federal motor vehicle standards and provides multiple layers of visual and auditory warnings to alert occupants that the vehicle is running when the driver exits with the key fob," said Brian Lyons, of Toyota.

But attorney Robert Kelley, who's representing Tim and Chasity's family in their own lawsuits, warns this widespread problem needs an industry-wide fix.

"This is a major public health issue. Automobile manufacturers need to design for that, they're the ones that came up with this system right? It's their invention, they're trying to sell more cars, well, make them safe."

After digging through hundreds of online records, the Contact 5 Investigators uncovered since 2005, at least, a dozen similar complaints about keyless cars have been reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Six years later, the feds are responding. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "NHTSA is looking into whether or not these systems need to be standardized. Key safety concerns are vehicle roll away, theft and carbon monoxide poisoning and shutting off moving vehicles in the event of an emergency. NHTSA staff regularly reviews federal motor vehicle safety standards to determine if existing standards need to be amended."

Any new changes will be too late for Chasity Glisson and Tim Maddock, who's still struggling to get back to life.

"If you want to have the keyless entry, fine, but make some precautions that if someone makes a mistake and leaves it running that's its going to shut off eventually," said Maddock.

  To check out our web extra, more of Maddock's emotional interview and his new mission, click here

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