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A Potential Hazard of Electronic Keys

02/13/2011

Motoring A Potential Hazard of Electronic Keys By CHRISTOPHER JENSEN Published: February 10, 2011CONCERN over the implications of a 2006 revision to a federal safety standard is spurring regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to reconsider their change. At issue is whether the change, which redefined what constitutes a car's ignition key, has effectively increased the possibility of accidents caused by a vehicle rolling away.

The matter involves the so-called smart key fobs used in millions of vehicles to replace conventional metal keys. Instead of pins and tumblers, these devices use an electronic code that enables a vehicle to be started either by pressing a button or inserting the fob into a slot on the dashboard.

The problem is that under the revised N.H.T.S.A. standard for such devices, the vehicle's engine can be shut off and the key fob removed without the automatic transmission being shifted to the Park position. A spokesman for the safety agency, Jose Alberto Ucles, said in an e-mail exchange that the chief concerns behind the fresh look at the standard "are vehicle roll-away, theft, possible carbon monoxide poisoning and shutting off moving vehicles in the event of an emergency."

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/13/automobiles/13keyless.html

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