Older Generation Power Windows Still Killing Children

A decade after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration passed regulations requiring push down/pull up power window switches in all automotive vehicles, children are still being strangled by power windows.  In the last four months alone two children lost their life when they accidently activated the power window switch in the vehicle they were in.    

Very few parents appreciate that most power windows are strong enough to lift a small child’s body.  By exerting only a two-pound force (average) on the power window toggle switch, the window is activated to exert an upward force of between 50 and 80 pounds.  Since only eight to 12 pounds are required to lift the actual window, the excess available force (40 to 70 pounds) is more than enough to trap and choke a child between the glass and upper window frame.

Even an inadvertent touch on the “up” side of the toggle switch can zip a window to the tightly closed position in two to four seconds.  This is often faster than a child can move out of harm’s way, resulting in entrapment of the child’s head, neck, or other body part.  An un-recessed power window toggle switch is a dangerous and defective device, because it allows the release of so much deadly energy through minimal accidental contract by a child’s elbow, knee, or foot.

It is very important that you take a number of steps to insure the safety of children in any vehicle containing older versions of power window switches.  Many vehicles have a window lock out feature which prevents passengers from operating the windows.  If your vehicle contains such a feature, use it when you have child passengers.  A number of vehicles also have an auto-reverse (bounce back).  This feature when it encounters any type of obstruction will immediately reverse the window back down.  Please check your vehicle owners manual to see if your vehicle is equipped with this feature. 

We need to watch out for our children (and pets) and remember that vehicles containing older generation power windows will be in use for many more years to come.