Automobile Power Window

Safe Automobile Power Window Campaign - Fact Sheet

Automobile Power Window Problem:

Power windows in automobiles have killed or injured thousands of children. The death toll keeps rising. Eight fatalities have occurred so far this year.1

A 1997 study conducted by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis at the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA). The Study estimated that hospital emergency rooms treat 500 people for injuries related to power windows. Half of those injured are children. There have been no new studies of injury patterns surrounding power windows since 1997. Now, over 90% of vehicles come equipped with power windows.

The projected 500 injuries per year most probably underestimate the true magnitude of the number of injuries. No figures are available for the number of medical treatments not sought for injuries.

Public Opinion:

A national poll conducted by Harris Interactive on July 17, 2003, found that:

  • 75% of respondents and 78% of parents were unaware that power windows have killed and injured children.
  • 84% of all respondents and 86% of parents want American automakers to install safer power windows.
  • 89% of respondents concluded American automakers should install the same safer power windows. Vehicles for the US market should match what they do in cars sold overseas.
  • 75% of respondents and 78% of parents are willing to pay slightly more for cars with safer power windows.
  • Automobile Power Window Facts:
  • Power windows can exert an upward force of 30-80 pounds. A force more than is necessary in most cases to raise the window. It takes just 22 pounds of force to suffocate or injure a child.

Example of Models Sold Overseas with Safer Power Windows:

  • Auto-reverse technology stops a Automobile Power Window if an obstruction is detected-much like the proven technology in garage doors and elevators. Auto Reverse is standard equipment in the Ford Focus sold in Europe. The same Ford Focus purchased in the US does not have the auto-reverse feature. This option is not even available in the US.
  • Auto-reverse mechanisms also are commonly included in cars sold in Europe. More than 80 percent of European models have auto-reverse cars. Fewer than 10 percent of GM, Ford, and Chrysler models do.

What Automakers Can Do, But Have Not:

  • Install auto-reverse mechanisms for all power windows. Consumers are willing to pay this additional cost of $8-10 per Automobile Power Window in the price of the car.
  • Warn owners of vehicles about the dangers of power windows in the owners manual.
  • Automakers need to stop accusing devastated parents of being negligent. According to the Harris poll conducted on July 17, 2003, parents are unaware of the following danger. Power windows can be hazardous to children. The definition of negligence is “knowledge of a danger and choosing to ignore it.” These automakers are negligent because they have known about this problem for over 35 years. Automakers refuse to fix the problem. Parents who have lost children in this preventable manner never meant any harm to their children. Victims live the rest of their lives with self-guilt and do not need the auto companies to add to their grief.
  • The 2004 Ford F-150 truck and Ford Freestar (formerly the Windstar) minivan were recently wholly redesigned. They continue to install the dangerous “rocker” switches but make them smaller. The marketplace projects over one million vehicles with unsafe power windows. The sales of these two vehicles alone this year will account for those numbers.

Automaker Admissions

  • There was a video deposition in 1997 by an engineer for an American automaker. This engineer claimed that the industry would change power windows if they knew of deaths. The information about casualties was not made clear to the engineers. Auto manufacturers have known about the deaths of children for decades. The automakers refuse to fix this problem.
  • GM’s engineer, Thomas Ankeny, stated in a court deposition in the late 1990s. It would be safer to design a Automobile Power Window that could go only down, never up when pressed by a switch.
  • Ford used the safer pull-up/push-down switches on numerous vehicles from the 1980s until 1994. They stopped because of “styling reasons,” not safety, according to the testimony of Ford representative Bobby Bedi.