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    NHTSA Proposes Standardizing Keyless Ignitions


    William Maley

    Editor/Reporter - CheersandGears.com

    December 9, 2011

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed today a new rule that would make all keyless ignition systems operate in the same manner.

    The proposed rule would require the system be able to turn off the engine regardless of the position the gear selector is in. The rule would also reduce the number of seconds someone has to hold the button to turn the engine and have an audible warning if the driver tries to shut the motor without first selecting Park.

    NHTSA is proposing the rule due to number of vehicles equipped with keyless ignitions. In 2002, 5,000 vehicles were equipped with keyless ignitions. In 2008, the number jumped to over 1.2 million vehicles.

    NHTSA is also citing the 2009 accident of a Lexus ES330 that killed an off-duty California Highway Patrol and three other people. The Lexus required the driver to hold the button for three seconds before the car turned off.

    NHTSA says the cost to implement this feature will be less than $500,000 a year for automakers.

    Source: The Detroit News

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    You know what? I don't care for a keyless ignition system. Remember the episode of Top Gear where Clarkson moved Hammond's Challenger while Hammond was still sitting in that diner? Who's to say two dudes who run a chop shop with a flatbed truck couldn't just roll up and swipe your unlocked car while you're chewing on a Porterhouse steak, blissfully unaware?

    I'm surprised I haven't heard stories about car thieves doing that. If anything, the NHTSA should be setting a standard (and limited) range for these systems to work within.

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    I love the story of the woman who drives her husband to the airport in his Mercedes... he gets out, gets on the plane... and then gets a call from his wife after she gets home and discovers the only set of "keys" were in his pocket. Oops.

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    Pointless? I don't think so. Without value? potentially saving a life is without value.

    Reactionary? Well... yes.. your reply to this post is.

    BS

    This is a typical over-reaction and knee-jerk regulatory response form a bloated agency justifying its own existence.

    One highly-publicized, and sensational event is nothing to base policy on.

    Is there a burning need for regulation here?

    Of course not.

    The industry has already taken note of the issue and will respond out of self-protection - no regulation required.

    If standards are to be adopted for this sort of thing, they should be adopted by an industry group such as SAE.

    Rest assured, NHTSA only proposed this due to the high profile of one incident - not any pervasive problem.

    Though the intent might be a fine thing (saving lives), the response is so out of proportion as to be laughable.

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    I've gone from a VW to a GM, back to the VW and then on to another VW in a matter of a week, all having keyless ignition, and each one having slightly different starting/stopping routines even among the same brand. I'm a car guy and even I find it annoying that there isn't some standardization.

    The SAE had their chance to institute some standard when this was on everyone's mind 2 years ago; they didn't do it.

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    If SAE dropped the ball, then shame on them, but the default to government regulation is a sad trend.

    The mindset is full of hazard.

    And, inconvenience stemming from a lack of a standard does not constitute a safety issue.

    -3

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    What's wrong with mandating the same ignition behaviour throughout the industry? This could save lives... If someone rents a vehicle, and they're unfamiliar with its push start behaviour in an emergency, it's potentially dangerous.

    More convenience, and greater safety. For the public good. That's exactly what a government should do.

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    If SAE dropped the ball, then shame on them, but the default to government regulation is a sad trend.

    The mindset is full of hazard.

    And, inconvenience stemming from a lack of a standard does not constitute a safety issue.

    It ABSOLUTELY is a safety issue. The GM in the list of cars I mentioned was a rental. While one should certainly take the time to learn the emergency off procedure for their own car, in a rental, who is really going to take the time to read the manual for emergency off? Emergency off should be standard across the board.

    The government is regulating this BECAUSE the SAE (or any other manufacturer group) didn't do it on their own. They had two years to just announce that they were working on such a standard. It could have been 4 interns in a back office... but as long as someone was working on it, the Feds would have stepped back and let them work on it. All it takes is a press release to get that process started and should be enough to keep the feds out of it. Shame on them indeed.

    Edit: Furthermore, this should have been "sponsored" by Toyota as just a PR campaign. They could have came out and said "We're heading up an SAE task force to establish an industry standard for keyless ignition.

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    I see it all as a threshold issue, that being way too low prior to government action.

    That should be a last resort rather than the "go to" choice.

    Had NHTSA said "do this yourself, or we will", I'd give them the nod.

    We should always search for another way before giving the govt. yet another thing to do.

    All regulations cost money, and all regulations limit future possibility. They also tend to remain in place long after the freshness date expires.

    I just think we should be reluctant to issue an edict if other methods are available.

    In this specific case, to say that there is some doubt about the keyless ignition being responsible for what happened in that Lexus would be a serious understatement. This isn't an everyday issue, with widespread incidents, it's just one sensational story prompting the "Do something!" chorus. Which, in turn, caused NHTSA to act.

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    To your edit, Olds: I agree completely.

    It would have been a bold, and intelligent thing for Toyota to do.

    That sort of thinking is exactly what we need rather than an adversarial relationship pro and con regulation.

    EDIT: See what I'm talking about? Just a few posts on a forum, and we already have a better solution.

    Edited by Camino LS6
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    I feel the the NHTSA should urge the SAE to work on a standard. Unfortunately, the NHTSA will write heavy handed laws without consulting anyone that will probably come up with some absurd requirements that will push keyless ignition systems to extinction.

    Its like the FMVSS rules for sealed beam headlights. Due to the NHTSA taking WAY too long to react to modern technology, our headlight designs trailed the rest of the world's for 2 decades. Another heavy handed regulation concerning bumper height drove another company out of the states (Citroen).

    I agree on standardization... just that the NHTSA is the wrong place to do it.

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