Your car is always listening for the electronic signal from your key fob. If it’s a newer model, you might not even have to press a button, just approach your car and the doors will unlock. In some cases, the engine will turn on.
The key fob’s signal is easy for thieves to intercept and might let them drive off in your car. The fob uses a computer chip to create a unique code that it sends to the car’s security system. The car has a chip that uses algorithms to generate a second code. If the codes match up, the car opens.
Each key fob/car security pair is unique, but researcher have found that by intercepting the signal twice, they could narrow down the possible combinations. After that a computer can figure out the code in just a half-hour and unlock the car.
USA Today‘s Kim Komando says always-on fobs present a serious weakness in your car’s security. As long as your keys are in range, anyone can open the car and the system will think it’s you. That’s why newer models won’t unlock until the key fob is within one foot.
Thieves, however, can buy an inexpensive signal amplifier over the Internet. That means your keys could be in the house, but a thief could walk up to the car and open it.
You can buy a signal-locking pouch to hold your keys. Or you can put the key fob in the refrigerator.
You can also just wrap the key fob in aluminum foil, but wrap it well so it can’t leak the signal.
Safety experts at the National Safety Council, and insurance companies such as Allstate and Geico, were surprised by the 14 percent increase in fatal auto accidents during the first half of 2015. Geico is part of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway group. Figures for the second half haven’t yet been compiled.
Insurers say drivers could be facing a period of rising premiums. Some companies are reacting to the statistics with rate increases and others are expected to follow.
What caused the accidents
Buffett’s statement about drivers being worse is not quite on target, though driving longer hours on trips and on crowded roads can be stressful.
* Roadways were more dangerous in 2015 as travel increased to a record 1.54 trillion miles through June, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
The average number of miles individual Americans drove remained at the same level as in 2007, but there were more people driving.
* Low gasoline prices, the lowest since 2010, encouraged more travel.
* The low unemployment rate of 5.1 percent meant people could afford to take more trips, according to the American Automobile Association.
Allstate president Matt Winter told analysts that increased vehicle complexity could be a factor, but it’s typical for people to drive more and have more accidents as the economy rebounds from a recession.
What you can do
Traditional cautions are even more important on crowded roads: Take it easy and don’t be aggressive. Allow more time to reach your destination. Drive defensively. Be ready for another driver to make a mistake.