An elderly couple in New Zealand came close to death after their keyless Mazda 3 locked them inside for 13 hours. Mollieanne (65) and Brian Smith (68) had recently bought their new car, and climbed into it at 7pm on November 5. Unfortunately, they’d left the transponder outside the vehicle, and after closing the doors the car’s automatic locking system activated.
The answer was simple: unlock the door using the traditional door-mounted locks; but for an elderly couple panicking, the solution wasn’t easy to find. Mr Smith told the Otago Daily Times 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].”
When paramedics arrived at 7.45 the next morning, they found Mollieanne unconscious, with Brian struggling to breathe. Medics said that just 30 minutes longer in the car, and the pair might not have made it out alive.
Although this is not a design flaw, and the solution seems obvious to us, it’s an important reminder that with an ageing population and increasingly advanced technology, society can’t let the elderly get left behind. Mazda New Zealand has acknowledged this fact, and says it will ensure proper training is given to customers upon purchasing a new car.