Car Window Safety: Are Car Windows Dangerous?
On average, five children are killed in accidents involving power windows according to an analysis of 20032004 data by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA also estimates that accidents involving power windows injure 1,000 children* as a result of an analysis of 2003-2005 data. While this number seems low compared to the number of children injured or killed in car accidents or other unfortunate circumstances, as a parent, it is still an issue that you should be concerned about.
Most of us have experienced the pain associated with a window unintentionally closes on our finger, hand or arm but for children, injuries associated with power windows can be much more serious.
Unlike power-operated devices such as elevators or garage doors, most power windows do not have an automatic stopping mechanism when it senses something in its way. In 2004, eleven major consumer, auto and child safety groups petitioned the NHTSA to require automatic reverse technology for all new passenger vehicles. This technology would stop a power window from closing when a child is in its path. Unfortunately, the NHTSA did not implement this recommendation.
As a parent, you should understand the risks related to power windows. Here are four FAQs about the dangers of power windows.
1. How do power window-related injuries occur?
In many reports of accidents involving power windows, an unsupervised child typically has his or her head out the window of a car and accidentally leans on the window switch. The glass moves up, chocking the child.
2. What are the various kinds of power window switches?
There are three types of switches: rocker, toggle and lever (push-pull switches). Rocker and toggle switches are activated when downward pressure is applied to it. Rocker and toggle switches can be inherently riskier if mounted horizontally on the doors armrest. Lever switches, on the other hand, must be pulled up to move the window.
3. Which switches are more risky?
Because toggle and rocker switches are activated by downward pressure, it is easy for children to accidentally power the window. According to Kids and Cars, a non-profit group that tracks auto-safety issues involving children, lever switches have generally not been implicated in fatal injures.
4. What can I do to reduce the risk of an accident?
As a parent, you should never leave your child unsupervised in a car. Talk to your child about the dangers of power windows and why they should never stick their head, or any other body parts out the window, regardless of whether the car is moving or not. When you are purchasing a new car, you should pay special attention to the type of window switch and the design of the window switch.
* The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration analysis categorizes children as 14 years old and younger.