Push Button Start Poses Big Problem

With the advent of the electric car, or rather the resurgence of the electric car, consumers have had to relearn some of the skills they once thought they had mastered when it comes to operating a car. Engineers too have had to struggle with ideas that differ radically between fossil fuel powered vehicles and electric, or even hybrid electric vehicles.

One of the most common problems regards the electric start button these new automobiles come equipped with.

These new types of cars are very quiet, especially if their motor automatically stops running to conserve fuel (which is a common attribute of these new types of vehicles.) Drivers are often unaware that although the motor is not running the vehicle is still technically ‘turned on’ and consuming fuel either as electricity or petrol.

All push-button start vehicles have some type of audible alert system which warns the driver, either with a special tone inside the car, or in the case of the Chevy Volt, a beeping horn, that the vehicle is still running. However, some safety advocates say the audible tones are not enough to adequately warn drivers, and the system itself is flawed.

The problem has become prevalent enough that the NHTSA is now considering setting safety standards for keyless entry systems and push button starters. So far no new standard has been determined. Conversations and investigations are just now taking place and some people, manufacturers mostly, are claiming there isn’t even a problem for anyone to worry about.

While manufacturers and safety advocates argue over the relevance of a more severe warning system, engineers struggle with ways of making these types of systems more effective and less risky for drivers who simply might not be paying close attention to the status of their vehicle.