An older New Zealand couple almost died after being inside their new Mazda 3 for 13 hours because they couldn't figure out how to exit the car. This was very close to being an actual tragedy, and one that could have been prevented by — and this is where you cringe — pulling the door handle.
The husband and wife had just bought their nice new Mazda 3 hatch, and this was their first car with a keyless entry system. When they got in their car, they happened to have left their owner's manual inside the house, and left the proximity key fob outside the car.
Not really being familiar with keyless entry systems, they both sort of panicked and made some of the worst possible assumptions imaginable. They convinced themselves that without the key, they couldn't exit the car. They tried honking the horn, but as it was Guy Fawkes night, there were lots of fireworks and other noise that kept them from getting noticed.
Then they tried smashing the window with the jack. I guess it's good they didn't resort to cannibalism after the first three hours.
I'm pretty conflicted about writing this, because, on one hand, this is a story of some really Olympic-class stupidity.
At the same time, these people, Mollieanne, 65, and Brian Smith, 68, seem like they could be any of our parents. Friendly, sweet, and maybe a little dumb when it comes to any technology newer than a Betamax.
These two almost died. When they were freed by their neighbors the next day, Mollianne was unconscious and Brian was struggling to breathe. And all they had to do was pull the fucking door handle. Maybe twice in a row, now that I think about it. But still — that's all they had to do.
Somehow the process of finding the jack, taking it out of the compartment under the rear cargo floor, and beating it against the window was within their capabilities, but neither of them thought to pull the door handles a few times? It's maddening.
I'm going to put myself in the hypothetical shoes of this couple's possibly extant kids: Mom, what — what the fuck were you thinking? And dad — dad, you KNOW better! How long have you been driving cars? How long have you been opening doors? I mean — fuck, dad, why didn't you at least try the stupid door handle? What the hell is with you — oh, dammit. Don't cry, mom. I'm sorry. It's ok. (rolls eyes)
Part of the blame probably does lie with the person who sold them the car, who maybe should have gone over the basics of keyless entry rules (which, I freely admit, has some issues) and at least made it clear that there's no way they can get trapped in the car and almost die.
The article in the Otago Daily Times says
Mrs Smith said she had decided to ''go public'' as people needed to be aware of the risks of keyless cars, particularly older people inexperienced in new technology.
Oh, Mrs. Smith. I'm so sorry this happened. And I think you're right about increasing awareness, but I'm not sure this is a risk of a keyless car, since even if this car had a key, and you were sitting inside it, it would have worked the exact same way.
There is a lesson here, though: if you're trapped in a car, try opening the door. You'd be amazed how effective it is.