Held Hostage by Her Honda!

penny-dreadful-trapped-in-carThe frantic phone call from our neighbor sounded like a prank.

It wasn’t.

“I’m locked in my car. Can you please come over right away with the key? My daughter took my keys, and I can’t get out.”

She had pulled into her driveway while talking with her office on the mobile phone, like many other days. Her teenager daughter exited the passenger side of car, but this time, Mom handed over her key chain to let her into the house, remaining engrossed in the phone call from the driver’s seat.

Honda’s anti-theft system manual on page 11 states:  “When the main unit is set to “AUTO” [and the ignition key is removed], the system arms automatically 20 seconds after the last door or the trunk is closed.”  That feature worked like a charm, the locks clicked into place, as my neighbor continued her phone call with coworkers — until she began to feel a bit toasty on that hot afternoon.

Realizing she couldn’t roll down the windows without the key, she then attempted to exit the vehicle. Her initial puzzlement shifted to dismay, as the door would not open. She quickly ended the phone call to search for a way out of her car.

Once the antitheft system engages in the 2009 Accord, as another hapless driver related on the internet, “there is no way to manually unlock the car doors nor will using the key fob “unlock” button work from the inside of the car. The car can only be unlocked by someone on the outside or by starting the engine, which disengages the security system.”

Did the horn still work with the antitheft system engaged?  Thankfully, yes!  However, when your only “someone on the outside” is a teenage girl already behind closed doors, glued between two noise cancelling earbuds and deafened by a hip hop trinity of Kanye, Rihanna and Kid Cudi piping “All of the Lights” directly to her eardrums, that pretty much renders the horn a moot accessory.

Wait!! Could she shinny out through the trunk?

Not an option.  Despite the easily accessible manual trunk lid release, the back seat can’t be dropped without a key.  Realizing she had no way out, she thought to herself, “The one thing I’d genuinely want a car thief to do is to get out of my car.”

My neighbor dialed her own house phone as the cabin temperature continued to rise and a hint of claustrophobia began to manifest.  Desperately hoping her daughter would answer, she was envisioning the 9-1-1 center releasing the recording of her emergency call to the local television news as the fire company’s Jaws of Life chewed a hole big enough for the EMTs to extract her lifeless body from the car, in plain view of the news helicopter camera.  When her daughter didn’t answer, she called our house.

Good news, we have spare keys to her house and car for emergencies…and this met the criterion.  Bad news, my wife and I were both a few miles away, and it would take precious time to get there through rush hour traffic.  Her dismay headed south toward panic.

It’s difficult to break a side window of a car with bare hands.  Kicking out the windshield is actually easier from the inside, if you’ve got the flexibility and normal leg strength sufficient to push it out. The better option is to keep one of many small inexpensive tools in your glove box, like a “window breaker seatbelt cutter.”  It’s a cheap tool, albeit an expensive exit.

One little caveat. If your glove box is securely locked, the tool won’t quite cut it.

The story had a happy ending. The teenage daughter kept hearing faint but odd and unfamiliar notes that didn’t belong in “All of the Lights.” So she removed one of the earbuds and realized it was mom’s blaring car horn.  Mother was saved after 15 panicked minutes that felt like a toasty eternity.  You could most likely think of a half dozen scenarios under which this might not have ended as well for someone else under a slightly different set of circumstances.

And it’s happening to others around the country and the world.

Is this a design flaw? Is it too secure?  Or perhaps it’s merely one more human contrivance that can unexpectedly turn on us at any moment, like the family pit bul. It’s called “dead locking,” maybe for a very good reason.

Honda owners, watch the mail and the news in coming years for a recall notice. Meantime, don’t you dare let those keys get away from you. See what happens whenNFL Arizona Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu locked himself in a car on a hot day to see what it felt like.


Copyright © 2015 – Robert D. Jones – All Rights Reserved




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This post is borrowed from the InclusiveWorks® Blog.

Photo Credit: Penny Dreadful Trapped in Car

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