SOURCE: AAA Texas

April 02, 2007 01:01 ET

'Key Code' Bill Offers Help for Stranded Motorists, Says AAA Texas

AUSTIN, TX -- (MARKET WIRE) -- April 2, 2007 -- A pair of bills under consideration by the state legislature would help replace stolen, disabled or lost keys safely, securely and more quickly. Senate Bill 1371 is sponsored by Senator John Carona (Dallas), and House Bill 2295 is sponsored by Representative Joe Driver (Garland) and supported by AAA Texas. HB 2295 is scheduled for a hearing in the House's Law Enforcement Committee on Monday, April 2.

These bills would give motorists 24-hour access to the information needed to replace high-tech electronic passenger vehicle keys through a licensed and authorized locksmith. Before the advent of high-tech computerized "smart keys," motorists could call a locksmith for help. Now, however, many manufacturers will not provide that information to locksmiths, giving it, instead, only to their dealerships. Unfortunately, those businesses are not open at night or on holidays -- times when most motorists are likely to find themselves stranded.

High-tech "smart keys" contain a computer chip that is recognized by the vehicle's ignition and lock system which manufacturers started using in some passenger vehicles in the mid-1990s. Today, this technology is common in most passenger vehicles.

"There are times when you can't get to a dealership or the dealership is unavailable," said Senator John Carona. "In those circumstances, you can get a locksmith, but the locksmith is reduced to practically breaking into the car, and even then, you might not get the car to start. The result is added time and expense from having the car towed to the dealership. For my car and my family, I want the convenience of getting back on the road and the assurance that my information is safeguarded," added Carona.

"These 'key code' bills would give consumers a safe, secure process to get replacement keys. Texas already requires locksmiths to undergo stringent criminal background checks, maintain high liability insurance limits and comply with the verification of ownership process to be licensed to do business in the state," said Representative Driver. "This legislation would require that manufacturers provide the 'key code' information to locksmiths that are pre-approved and pre-registered with the automobile manufacturer. This legislation will ensure that the services of a registered locksmith are used in a manner to safeguard the privacy and security of owners and lessees of passenger cars in our state."

The 'key code' bills are similar to a new law in California which requires all manufacturers to make this information available to state-licensed, manufacturer-registered locksmiths starting in 2008.

"AAA Texas believes that when a motorist buys a vehicle, he or she also buys everything needed to operate it including all the information necessary to make a replacement key," said Linda Von Quintus, group manager of government and public affairs for AAA Texas. "This legislation will provide the motorist with a choice of immediate access through a licensed, registered locksmith or the choice of waiting days before they can get to the dealership."

AAA Texas, a member of the American Automobile Association federation of motor clubs, has been serving Texas since 1902. Today, more than a million AAA Texas members benefit by the organization's roadside assistance service, travel agency, financial products, automotive pricing, buying and financing, trip planning services, and traffic safety programs. Information about these products and services is available on AAA Texas' website at www.aaa.com.

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