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PBC: Ground zero for keyless car deaths

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Posted at 3:30 PM, Feb 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-05 18:08:12-05

The land of sand, surf and palm trees now leading the country for deaths linked to cars, convenience and carbon monoxide.

Since 2009, five of the nation's 14 reported keyless cars deaths occurred in Palm Beach County, according to our news partner at the Palm Beach Post.

Among those who have died, 29-year-old Chasity Glisson.

"It's like a bad dream that you just don't want to wake up from," Chasity’s boyfriend Tim Maddock told the Contact 5 Investigators in 2011. 

Months before our interview, Chasity and Maddock, were poisoned by carbon monoxide after Chasity accidentally left her keyless Lexus running in her Boca Raton garage.

Adele Ridless and Mort Victor also of Boca Raton lost their lives in 2012.

Keyless cars allow drivers to start and stop their engines with the push of a button, but nothing is in place to turn the car off or even alert the driver if they forget to press the off button.

Immediately after our investigation, U.S. Congressman Tom Rooney (R-17) responded with a call for change.

"It should come with some fail safe mechanism that says the car is idle for 30 seconds, or more maybe, it automatically shuts down," he said back in 2011.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also responded saying they were studying whether new standards should be adopted. But that was five years ago and still no new standards.

“NHTSA has the power to enact regulations to prevent this sort of tragedy from occurring; they just need to use it," said U.S. Senator Bill Nelosn.  "The new keyless-ignition rules NHTSA is considering have been sitting idle for far too long. The agency needs to get moving and do its part to protect consumers,” he told the Contact 5 Investigators on Friday.

While car manufacturers have balked at some of the safeguards being considered, victims like Tim Maddock are still pressing for change before another keyless car death makes headlines.

NHTSA is proposing audible warnings in keyless cars to alert drivers who leave their cars running.

While a final rule was expected last year, a NHTSA spokesman told the Contact 5 Investigators the agency is still seeking public comment on the issue.

Instructions on how to voice public comment on the issue of keyless car ignition safeguards:

You may submit comments to the docket number identified in the heading of this document by any of the following methods:

• Federal eRulemaking Portal: go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.

• Mail: Docket Management Facility, M-30, U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building, Ground Floor, Rm. W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE. Washington, DC 20590.

• Hand Delivery or Courier: West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

• Fax: (202) 493-2251.

Regardless of how you submit your comments, you should mention the docket number of this document.

You may call the Docket at (202) 366-9324.

Instructions: For detailed instructions on submitting comments and additional information on the rulemaking process, see the Public Participation heading of the Supplementary Information section of this document. Note that all comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided.

Privacy Act: Please see the Privacy Act heading under Rulemaking Analyses and Notices.

Recently NHTSA released a new keyless ignitions consumer video and safety tips that you may want to include in your story.  The link is below. 

http://www.safercar.gov/keyless

See our investigation back in 2011:

http://www.wptv.com/news/local-news/investigations/are-keyless-cars-a-convenience-or-a-threat-

For the latest Contact 5 Investigation or If you have an investigative tip or story idea for the Contact 5 Investigators, follow Katie on Facebook or Twitter.