Technology is moving at such a rapid pace that many people have trouble keeping up with it. It doesn’t help that close to no one reads the manual, nor is informed about all the functions either.
Having issues with a laptop is one thing; getting locked into a car for hours is much more serious. That’s exactly what happened to Mollieanne (65) and Brian (68) Smith, who on November 5 were trapped into their Mazda 3 for 13 hours due to a misunderstanding.
The couple had left the keyless entry transponder outside the car and the manual in the house. Due to a lack of information and a combination of stress and night time, they were led to believe the only way out was by smashing a window – which they couldn’t achieve.
They did sound the horn but, as Mrs Smith said, it was Guy Fawkes night so, obviously, the sound was drowned out. They were in the car from around 7 pm until 7:45 the next morning, with Mrs. Smith unconscious and Mr Smith having trouble breathing.
Mr. Smith, who describes himself as “very methodical”, told the Otago Daily Times that he couldn’t find the unlocking mechanism for the door: “Once I found out how simple it was to unlock, I kicked myself that I did not find this way out… I had this mind-set that I did not have the transponder so I could not get out.”
That’s because, he said, the salesperson had made it seem like the car wouldn’t work without the transponder, and it was only afterwards he learned the locking mechanism worked the same way as conventional, non-keyless entry cars.
The couple went public because the owners of “keyless” cars, especially older people with little or no experience in technology, need to educate themselves. Mrs. Smith said she had received five phone calls from people reporting similar issues.
Mazda New Zealand general manager Glen Harris commented that the report was an industry first: “It’s not a design flaw with the car. What we have said to the network is, with new technologies, don’t forget to show customers how to use them in their entirety and how to override them. There is always a manual process to override them.”