by James Buchanan
Not all changes to cars are positive. Some changes are motivated by cheapness. Some changes are ordered by busy-body executives, who can’t leave well-enough alone. I’m sure the increasing percentage of quota-hires and H-1B visa workers at the car companies are introducing a new wave of incompetence unlike anything before. Some of these changes are merely annoying, but some can get you killed.
An NBC news article reports “A U.S. Army veteran from Texas and his dog were found dead after an electronic malfunction apparently caused the pair to become trapped inside the man’s sports car.”
“Port Arthur police officials say 72-year-old James Rogers and his Shih Tzu, named ‘Baby Girl’ Leia, were found unresponsive inside the Chevy Corvette on Monday afternoon.”
“Police believe Rogers became trapped inside the car with electric locks and windows after a battery cable came loose and locked the doors and disabled the horn, NBC affiliate KBMT reported.”
“The 2007 Corvette does not have (a) manual door lock, leaving Rogers and Leia unable to escape and likely dying of heat, according to KBMT, quoting fire officials.”
To be more accurate, the 2007 Corvette does not have a manual door locking knob like most cars do. What they do have is a manual door lock release which is virtually hidden along the floor trim. Why anyone in his right mind would put the door locking release there is beyond me. A four year old child could get trapped in a Corvette, just like this 72 year old man, and die just as easily. A passenger in a Corvette could be trapped in the car after an accident, desperately trying to find a way to open the door as the car catches on fire.
The poor old man was no doubt hoping that someone would come along and help free him so he wouldn’t have to bash out a window (which would have been difficult without some sort of hammer or large wrench in the car with him). While waiting for help, he likely passed out from the heat and then expired. He had left his cell phone behind at a restaurant earlier that day.
An increasing percentage of cars are doing away with conventional door locks and switching to “key fobs” that remotely unlock or lock the doors and start the car. In their infinite cheapness, the car manufacturers remove the door locking knobs, which should still be seen as an important safety feature. If someone is going out to dinner with three friends, is he going to give a key fob to each of his passengers so they can get out of the car in the event of an emergency? No of course not. If you’re driving through a sketchy part of town with crazy homeless people, you’ll want to have the doors locked then, but what happens after an accident? What if the driver hits his head, is knocked out and drops the key fob on the floor of the car? You don’t suppose that could lead to a real crisis situation.
If the government were looking out for our interests, they would NOT be allowing car makers to cheap out on something as basic as your ability to get out of your own car. The government already dictates that you have a catalytic converter. They dictate that you have airbags. They dictate dozens of other things on your car, but apparently it hasn’t dawned on anyone in government that once-simple things like getting out of your car on a hot day should continue to be be simple and obvious and independent of whether your car battery is dead or your key fob battery is dead. Manual door knobs just might save the lives of little children who get locked inside a new car; we can’t expect toddlers to know where some Chevrolet engineer has hidden the door unlocking feature this year. This 72 year old man probably isn’t the first victim to be trapped in his own car and he won’t be the last. The batteries on the first generation of key fobs will start dying soon and then we’ll find out how many people know the back up plan for getting out of their cars. I would not be surprised if some cars have no back up system at all to manually open the door. There will be kids and little old ladies, who will also fall victim to the blundering of the car companies, who can’t even keep something like getting out of your own car simple and obvious.