A couple in New Zealand who were trapped in their vehicle for 13 hours after it locked itself, hope others can learn from their near-death experience.
On November 5, at around 7pm, Mollieanne Smith, 65-year-old and Brian Smith 68-year-old who recently bought a new “keyless” Mazda 3 hatchback, decided to go out on an evening spin.
However, they’d left the transponder outside the vehicle, and after closing the doors the car’s automatic locking system activated.
Then their hours of fright began until they were rescued by neighbours the next day at 7:45a.m, with Mrs Smith unconscious and her husband was struggling to breathe.
Although, they could have unlocked the door using the traditional door-mounted locks; but for an elderly couple panicking, the solution wasn’t easy to find.
Mr Smith while recounting their ordeal said that the salesperson had implied that the car wouldn’t work without the transponder: “I had this mind-set that I did not have the transponder [so I could not get out].”
Mrs Smith spent three days in Dunstan Hospital. Mr Smith, who considered himself ”very methodical”, said he could not find the unlocking mechanism.
”Once I found out how simple it was to unlock it I kicked myself that I did not find the way out … I had this mind-set that I did not have the transponder [so I could not get out].”
He now knew the manual lock was the same as the inside door handle on many other vehicles.
Mr Smith said his message for owners of ”keyless”cars – not just Mazda models – was to educate themselves on how to operate their car before using it.
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.
Mazda New Zealand general manager Glenn Harris said the report of the couple being trapped in the car in that manner 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, ” he stated.