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Power car windows cost lives
7 children die in accidents; safety advocates fault automakers, government, say fix is easy

By Jeff Plungis / Detroit News Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — The horrific deaths of seven children in the past few months is putting renewed pressure on Detroit automakers to replace outdated power-window switches that consumer advocates say pose a serious safety hazard.

The problem involves rocker switches that can accidentally be activated by a child in a car or truck. After the switch has been depressed, toddlers have been crushed or strangled by closing glass, usually after a parent has stepped away from the vehicle.

Later this month, the federal government is expected to propose a regulation that could lead to safer switch designs.

“We intend to propose a new power-window regulation in the not-too-distant future,” said Rae Tyson, a spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “In the meantime, we would not discourage manufacturers from stepping forward and addressing the issue themselves.”

European automakers have begun changing their switch designs in response to tougher regulations. And Japanese manufacturers have changed the switches in many popular models. The updated designs feature “lever” switches that must be pulled up by a single finger to make the window rise.

U.S. automakers have been slow to embrace the new designs, consumer activists say.

“There’s no question they lag behind the rest of the industry in changing their designs,” said Sally Greenberg, senior product safety counsel with Consumers Union.

Greenberg has been lobbying Congress to pass a law that would force NHTSA to collect data on power-window injuries and propose a new regulation to cut down on injuries.

The legislation passed the Senate in February as part of an auto safety package in a highway funding bill. The House passed a highway bill without the auto safety provisions. Negotiators are expected to hammer out the final details of the bill this month.

In the meantime, deaths involving electric power windows continue. The latest incidents include:

* On June 5 in Dallas, 3-year-old Yency Ayala was strangled in the window of a 2001 F-250 pickup.

* A 4-year-old boy died in a 1991 Lincoln Continental on June 3 in Walworth County, Wis.

* On March 30 in Delphi, Ind., 3-year-old Rian Addison Brandt died after stepping on the rocker switch of a Ford Expedition SUV.

Five of the seven deaths this year involved Ford Motor Co. vehicles, said Janette Fennell of Kansas City, a mother who founded Kids and Cars, a group that tracks child-related automotive safety hazards.

more...
 

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Some commentary:

I want to be careful saying this considering the tragedy of losing these young children, but I hope this doesn't turn into a Crusade the likes of parents leaving children in hot vehicles.

When you have power windows, the danger of injury or death is self-evident, just as it is obvious that a hot vehicle is a serious health risk to young children.

I'm glad that automakers are responding to this danger by including safety devices that minimize the prospect of injury, but I'm wary of the emphasis on legislation to solve the problem. Safety laws and regulations can be a good thing, but experience tells us that these laws are often abused either by legislators to make unreasonable demands on automakers or by courts to extort huge windfalls from automakers as a result of the irresponsibility of the vehicle owner (in some cases).
 

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Good God, these nuts can think up anything to complain about. Soon cars will need to hover high enough that pedestrians cannot be hit, because we all know that is dangerous. BUt then we will have to do something else because cars that fly would be a danger too.
 

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don't leave your three year old alone in a vehicle. they could pull the knob off the radio and swallow it and choke just as easily if left alone, or get their fingers jammed in the glovebox. why are we baby-proofing cars? they're not playpens. my nephew loves playing in my car, but i only let him do it when i'm in there with him. i strongly feel that vehicles should be designed with occupant safety in mind, but those resources are best spent to make the car safe as it's designed to be used, not as a romper room.
 

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WOW American automakers have been slow to change?!?!?!

WTF are those activists talking about, Almost every new GM vehicle has Lever pull up to rise switches.
 

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In part its the parents fault too, leaving their young child in the car alone without someone there watching out for them.
 

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Darwin in action.

And I agree with the majority of the other posters... take some damn responsibility. Who leaves a small child in a car with the ignition on? Asshats. All of them.
 

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Not only that, but they are also leaving the car RUNNING.
Every car I know of has the power to the windows shut off either as soon as you turn off the ignition, or as soon as you open a door.

Leaving kids alone in a running car, the windows should be the smallest concern.

And shouldn't a kid be seat belted in?

the 7 deaths this year are sad, but it's the parent's fault, not the auto manufacturer.
 

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Originally posted by Rex Raider@Jul 5 2004, 03:12 PM
Not only that, but they are also leaving the car RUNNING.
Every car I know of has the power to the windows shut off either as soon as you turn off the ignition, or as soon as you open a door.

Leaving kids alone in a running car, the windows should be the smallest concern.

And shouldn't a kid be seat belted in?

the 7 deaths this year are sad, but it's the parent's fault, not the auto manufacturer.
You took the words right out of my mouth.
 

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All the cars they mentioned were made by Ford, maybe just Ford needs to change the design. Also I agree with everyone else here, it's completely the parent's fault for being irrisponsable enough to leave their kid alone in a running vehicle.
 

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It's truly pathetic that we live in a land of projected responsibility and externalized accountability. The parents (and not the automakers) should be ashamed of themselves!

Nonetheless, I smell a centimillion dollar lawsuit...
 

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I always wondered, those old switches that GM used to make, the square chromed ones that move the little switch back and forth, have those caused and problems with children killing themselves on it?
 

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Once again they say they European and japanese automakers have made the chenge. My 2003 Silverado has the design where you pull up on it. Give Detroit some credit sometimes people! It's not just the others!
 

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I never knew if it's a faulty switch, but on my 91 park ave ultra the window from the rear door ONLY goes down. I can lift it back up from the driver's switch...
this could solve all the problems.

I know that since long time ago, on expensive cars (bmw 7 series, etc) the window stops going up when it encounters the smallest pressure, but even this could be too much for a little child
 

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More children die in 5 gallon buckets (yes, they do!) than from power windows in cars; more children die from the hands of their own parents then from power windows. Let's make safer buckets and safer parents. A none issue if there ever was one.
 

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Originally posted by coolcaddy@Jul 5 2004, 02:34 PM
Power car windows cost lives
7 children die in accidents; safety advocates fault automakers, government, say fix is easy
the fix is easy. Buckle your child up. take your child with you when you leave the car and dont leave your car running.

one more reason why seat belts save lives.
 

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this happened recently in the dallas area. a little girl was left alone (mistake #1) in a Chevy pickup (obviously with the keys in it, mistake #2) and sat on the armrest of the front door (mistake #3, kids go in back), and consequently the window switch was depressed as she hung her head out the window, and she was strangled by the window. this is a parenting issue, and these people want to make regulations so they can be bad parents and everything is childproof. first of all, there aren't that many cars out now that have the rocker switches. secondly, like everyone else here has said, these people need to own up to being morons, and be in trouble for not watching their children. if you watch your kids, and don't leave them in a running vehicle, this type of thing won't happen.
 

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I belive the power window switch issue was on GMI some time ago - so my responce will be the same. I'll just whip out my handy Win98 calculator and show how it's done.

365.25 days in a year

divided by

7 child deaths from power windows
_________

1 child death every 52.17 days due to neglectful parents.

Also - I like the point about the 5 gallon buckets.
 

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Originally posted by giagastormer@Jul 5 2004, 08:02 PM
In part its the parents fault too, leaving their young child in the car alone without someone there watching out for them.
Yeah, that's what I wanna know. WHere were the parents of these kids when this happened?

Bottom line. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR CHILD IN A CAR UNATTENDED!!! No matter for how long! It only takes a few seconds of your back being turned for your child to do something he knows he shouldn't, but thinks he or she can get away with.

Stop blaming the automakers for stupid parenting!
 
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