NHTSA Looking To Standardize Keyless Ignitions
December 11, 2011

NHTSA Looking To Standardize Keyless Ignitions

U.S. government regulators are pushing for new rules that would standardize the way keyless ignition systems operate, with the goal of making it easier to shut off a vehicle's engine in the midst of an emergency situation, various media outlets reported Saturday.

According to USA Today, the proposal will be submitted to the Federal Register by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Monday, and will require all keyless ignition systems to be equipped to turn off the engine regardless of what position to gear lever is in. Typically, the transmission needs to be in park in order for the push-button ignition to function, though some models will switch off the motor if the driver holds the button for a specified length of time.

"Under the new rule, holding the button for half a second would stop the engine," the newspaper's report continued. "The rule also proposes an audible warning to the driver if he or she tries to shut the motor without first selecting park," and that warning would also sound "if the driver leaves the vehicle without turning off the engine or tries to exit the vehicle without first selecting park even if the engine has been turned off," it added.

Bloomberg's Angela Greiling Keane says that the proposed standardization, which would cost less than a half million dollars annually, is designed to make it easier to stop automobiles in cases of unintended acceleration, similar to the instances which played a role in the recall of more than 10 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles to be recalled in 2009 and 2010.

"At issue are drivers´ inability to stop a moving vehicle in a panic situation, and drivers who unintentionally leave the vehicle without the vehicle transmission´s being ℠locked in park,´ or with the engine still running, increasing the chances of vehicle rollaway or carbon monoxide poisoning in an enclosed area," officials from the NHTSA said in the proposal, according to Keane.

The new rule would require all push-button start/stop devices to be pressed for a half-second in order to stop a moving car, regardless of the gear it is in, Bloomberg reports. It should require a simple calibration change in existing keyless ignition cars, rather than additional parts, to correct, according to what Rich Hilgert, a Morningstar Inc. analyst who follows auto suppliers, told Keane.


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