This piece got its start after we spotted a video from thetruthaboutcars.com and YouTube. It showed the driver of a Tesla Model 3 being pulled over by a police officer for having a computer mounted to the dashboard.
The officer is recorded saying that this can’t be done and he is technically correct. But the driver could no more remove it than he could the steering wheel. The officer was simply unaware of the technology in the Model 3.
Now, the Models S and X have been around for a while, but as large as their screens actually are, they do not give the appearance of having been added. It has the rest of the dash surrounding it. The Model 3 screen truly appears to be bolted on — and of course it is!
The Model 3’s screen shows itself above the dash pad considerably, and protrudes outward from the dash several inches as well.
The concern for the officer is that movies can be playing or traditional web browsing could be underway, etc., which would be massive distractions to driving. In fact, while it is a computer, its only function is to help operate the car’s various systems as well as route mapping.
Which leads us to the point of this video. To date, we have yet to hear from a first responder about a dead key fob and frankly dread the day that we will. Imagine a police officer, EMT or firefighter jumping into his vehicle to respond to a call, only to have the vehicle fail to start because the key fob is dead.
As an aside, a wireless mouse announces that it needs a new battery with a flashing light on the mouse itself. If a car’s key fob’s battery gets low, it is announced on the dashboard. The computer doesn’t announce that the mouse battery is dying, the mouse does. Why can’t the key fob?
In any case, now we don’t know whether or not any emergency departments even use keyless start vehicles, but it certainly seems inevitable, and what was illustrated in the Model 3 video is the difficulty in ensuring that the drivers of those vehicles are familiar enough with the technology to get going when the need arises.
This is not easy in the general population and will be no easier with emergency personnel.
We are not suggesting attempts to train any and all first responders. Rather, we are suggesting that the motor pools or service areas maintaining the vehicles add the replacement of key fob batteries as a routine maintenance item.
In addition, we have anecdotal evidence that the more time a fob spends in its vehicle the faster the battery is depleted. At dashboardsymbols.com we know that these batteries will die anywhere from six to 18 months, so we recommend that for emergency vehicles, the replacement interval be six months.
There’s much too much at stake for this to be left to chance or to the vehicles drivers. Moving this to the maintenance side reduces the number of personnel that will need to be fully informed.
This is not to say that the police officers or firefighters or EMTs themselves should not be trained. Not at all. But experience tells us that what is not used daily or weekly is quickly forgotten, and all of these folks have more than enough to deal with as it is.
We think that all emergency departments will be best served to plan ahead and be ready to ensure that the simple problem of a dead key does not get in the way of life saving work.