Keep Our Families SafePower Window Dangers

Power windows in automobiles have claimed another life.

Just a couple of weeks ago, a 6-year-old boy in Albion, Wisconsin, was strangled to death in his mother’s car while she left the vehicle to drop off a job application.

Sadly this was not a random accident. Power windows in American-made automobiles have killed eight children in the past two years alone, and injured hundreds more. Approximately 500 people a year—half of whom are children—are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries from power windows.

The automakers in Detroit have done little to fix the situation. In fact, they have even suggested that it is parents who are negligent.

When one stops to consider that the definition of negligence is “knowledge of a danger and choosing to ignore it,” it is hard to think of parents and not Detroit as the negligent party.

“Although aware of the problem, Detroit continues to produce a product that kills and injures children,” says Kevin Falkner, whose son, Steven, was killed by a power window in 1998. “Fortunately, automakers can easily solve this problem and eliminate the risk of death or injury from power windows. Installing much safer pull-up push-down switches is inexpensive and only requires minimal, one-time assembly-line modification. And it’s the right thing to do.”

“Rocker” (push down) or “toggle” (push forward or backward) power window switches are used in most American automobiles, which a child can easily activate inadvertently.

On April 8, 2003, the European Union passed legislation mandating that all new cars sold in Europe be equipped with safer “push-down pull-up” switches. While American-made cars will adhere to this new standard in Europe, we need to add this same feature to all vehicles sold in the U.S. The change of switches costs next to nothing and could save automakers money if a standardized system for all domestic and exported vehicles were implemented.

None of this even addresses another easy solution to this public safety issue: auto-reverse technology.

Common in garage and elevator doors, a sensor is installed that detects an object in the door and immediately reverses direction. It’s a common sense way to end a preventable harm.

Auto-reverse technology is standard in the Ford Focus sold in Europe. The exact same model sold in the U.S., however, does not offer this safety feature as an option.

Every day, consumers are willing to pay a few extra dollars for luxury options on cars. The least Detroit can do is provide their customers with the options for keeping our children safe from the dangers of power windows.

For more information, go to www.kidsandcars.org.