NHTSA Won't Pursue Power Window Safety Law

Posted: March 8, 2011

In the old days, we had to crank car widows up and down manually. Now, that processes is a lot easier: We press a button and the windows roll up and down via an electric motor. This invention is more convenient, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also considers it a safety hazard for children.

“There is no comprehensive database that tracks power window injuries or deaths,” says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration counted an average of 5 children 14 and younger killed by power windows each year in 2003-2004.”

These statistics caused NHTSA to “pursue a recent proposal requiring automakers to have an automatic-reverse function on express-up power windows,” writes Kicking Tires. “At least 2,000 emergency room visits each year are a result of power windows, according to NHTSA. With injuries ranging from finger pinches to strangulation deaths, this is an issue we all need to watch out for, especially those of us with youngsters.”

But, earlier this month NHTSA announced that it would no longer pursue mandatory pinch protection. Why did NHTSA change its mind? Consumer Reports explains, “There are few fatalities or serious injuries that additional safety requirements could prevent, NHTSA stated in a notice about the nixed rule. Any new regulation ‘would instead address primarily ‘finger-pinch’ type injuries.’” The organization adds, “Vehicle redesigns have largely addressed the issue, and now have window switches that need to be pulled up. Window switches that are pressed down to close automatic windows have been replaced, virtually eliminating the hazard. This leaves only older vehicles with that specific safety hazard.” 

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