Cars that can be left running for hours, even after the driver leaves the vehicle, are blamed for death. Since 2006, a total of 37 people have been killed and 80 others injured by carbon monoxide gas after the driver left the vehicle with a ignition key working in the garage, according to the KidsAndCars.org organization. Toyota and Lexus vehicles were involved in almost half of the incidents, said the organization's spokesman. Lexus is Toyota's luxury division.
Toyota will add engine shutdown features to most of its 2020 model vehicles.
Such errors are especially easy for hybrid vehicles, because gasoline engines in hybrids often do not run when the vehicle is not moving. That can make it difficult to know whether the car has been turned off. If not, the gasoline engine will turn on after a while because the car's battery starts to lose power. That can even happen to non-hybrid vehicles, because many cars today have very quiet engines that are barely audible at idle.
Keyless ignition allows the driver to start their car by pressing a button, as long as the remote key fob is in the vehicle. This feature has been offered on the US market since the early 2000s and is now very common in new cars. Many new car models don't even offer key contact options with keys.
"Deadly features are very important because we are humans and when the way we turn on and turn off our vehicles has changed dramatically, new safety features are needed," said Janette Fennell, founder of KidsAndCars.org, national child safety. organization.
The company will not say how long the engine can be turned on before it turns off automatically.
Toyota will also add more warning sounds and visual warnings to new models to ensure drivers are aware that the engine is turned on when they leave the vehicle, the automaker said. In the future, the driver will also have the option to be warned through a smartphone application whose car is still on.
Toyota vehicles have had "engine on" warnings since 2003, the automaker said in an announcement. This new warning will be "upgraded" with a warning that sounds louder. Fennel also praised Toyota's decision to make it easier for drivers to know when the car is running.
Toyota will also add features to several vehicles that will automatically turn it into parking when the vehicle is turned off. This system will only be available on vehicles with an electronic device selector rather than a mechanical lever.
Toyota has no current plans to add these features to the previous model, said a spokesman.