US government seeks to standardize keyless ignition systems

Article by Christian Andrei, on April 24, 2011

The unintended acceleration cases that Toyota had been forced to confront make it all the more necessary to require automakers to standardize keyless ignition systems. This federal plan is likely to be similar to industry guidelines issued last January. The large automakers, with the exception of Toyota, have met the guidelines crafted by SAE International or already plan to do so.

The purpose of these "recommended practices'' is to oppose the variation, driver confusion and safety problems that have transpired since automakers began to install push-button ignition in luxury models.

Edmunds.com said that the number of models such as the Hyundai Elantra and Ford Fiesta and Focus in the 2011 model year has more than quadrupled to 189.

In comparison, only 44 were sold in 2006. SAE engineering specialist Peter Byk said that the industry “needs standardization." Under these SAE guidelines, drivers are able to stop a moving vehicle either by pushing the ignition button for a “long” time (from at least 0.5 to 2 seconds) or by doing two-to-three short pushes.

According to a Toyota spokeswoman last week, the Toyota vehicles (including several Camrys and Priuses and all Lexus models) have buttons that have to be pushed for three seconds to stop a car that’s moving.

A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation said that in the 2009 crash of California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Saylor and three family members, one very significant factor was the Lexus ES 350 push-button ignition "with no emergency instantaneous shut-off device.”

Topics: united states

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