Death by car tech… Almost

We all like to have a laugh at Nan’s expense whilst she does battle with the times and tries to get the grips with the latest technology, however the distance left between our old timers and modern day technology can be dangerous, and most definitely not funny, as two senior citizens from New Zealand have found out. I consider myself to be tech savvy, I’m good on a computer, it isn’t exactly rocket science but I built and maintain this website, yet when it comes to car technology there is something about it that isn’t quite as intuitive as other forms of technology. The amount of times I’ve sat in my car with my hands raised questioningly looking for a button or setting that will help me achieve the simplest of things. I was a passenger in my brothers second hand Audi A1 the other day and i couldn’t, for the life of me, work out how to move the seat back. However not knowing how to increase my leg room was nothing compared to what the elderly couple from New Zealand had to go through.

The couple had just bought a new Mazda3 that uses a smart key, yet when they got in the car they had left the key fob outside along with the users manual, usually this wouldn’t be a problem as the car was still functional, however Mr and Mrs Smith didn’t know this and the car was locked. Because of this they were stuck in a mindset that they couldn’t get out by simply unlocking the doors, instead they opted for bibbing the horn to attract attention, and even tried to smash the windows open using the car’s jack. Despite their efforts the couple were not found until 13 hours later, Mrs Smith was unconscious and Mr Smith was having difficulty breathing. The severity of the situation was so bad that if they had have been locked in the car for just half an hour longer, it could have killed them.


On the issue, Mazda New Zealand have stated the following: “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.” Following the experience Mrs Smith decided to go public with the story and said she received around 5 phonecalls from different people with similar stories. My mom had great difficulty starting her new Hyundai i30 a couple of months back and had to phone for help.

Of course no one is really suggesting that Mazda are at fault here, however I think there is a lesson we can all learn from this article. If you have elderly family or friends who you expect may struggle with the technology of a car they have bought, and you think you could help them out a bit, offer some assistance. Don’t just rely on the dealerships or the salesperson.