By on February 9, 2009

A US Department of Transportation study released last month shows that thousands of Americans (documented or otherwise) are injured or killed each year in vehicle-related accidents unrelated to driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) “Not in Traffic Surveillance – 2007 Highlights” study reveals that a total of of 1747 fatalities and 841k injuries were attributed to non-traffic crashes and non-crash incidents. The agency compiled the annual estimates to provide the first-ever look at the magnitude of accidents that cannot be resolved with a new law enforced with traffic citations. Among the findings: 168 individuals are killed each year by falling vehicles. Another 88 peg it by falling out of a car. Electric windows reduce the gene pool by five unlucky souls, and three die while locked in the trunk. About 22 percent of injuries are caused while entering or exiting a vehicle. Twenty percent of injuries are caused by car doors. Some 10k end up in ER after getting jiggy with jacks or hoists. The NHTSA compiled the information from a number of sources including police reports, hospital records and an injury database maintained by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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24 Comments on “1000s Injured and Killed in Non-Driving Car Accidents...”

  • avatar

    I don’t get it, how are people killing themselves with power windows?

  • avatar

    Neumahn, most likely unattended young children.

  • avatar

    As to the power windows, see here: My guess is that bean-counters and lawyers had meetings at GM, Chrysler, and Ford, respectively, and came to the conclusion that it would be cheaper to settle personal injury death claims than to change the design and production of their cars with power windows. It wouldn’t be the first time automakers consciously decided not to change their products even when they knew they were harmful.

  • avatar


    I’m guessing it is children that are probably strangling themselves by raising the glass with their heads out the window (perhaps with the aid of an auto-up function).

    Still this seems to be highly preventable, as every car I’ve ever owned has a lockout button for the power windows. Also, most cars with auto-up windows have obstacle detection that will lower the window if it encounters resistance when going up.

  • avatar

    Neumahn, I think those fatalities are probably children who inadvertently pressed or stood on the “up” button while sticking their head out the window. One operates the power windows on my Ford by pressing one end of the button for “up,” or the other end for “down.” I think the federal safety standard now requires controls like my Mazda’s, which one pulls up for “up” and presses for “down.”

    Mazda has used these safer controls for more than twenty years. The question is, why did Ford procrastinate?

  • avatar

    If power windows don’t kill ya, those power SUV tailgates will. Oh, the humanity!

  • avatar

    168…killed falling vehicles. Another 88 peg it by falling out of a car…. Electric windows reduce the gene pool by five ….three die while locked in the trunk. ….Twenty percent of injuries are caused by car doors. ….10k jiggy with jacks or hoist.

    Hmmmm…. seems like the solution is pretty clear-cut.

    Outlaw people …or cars …or just the people who own cars. …And people who know people with cars… and especially if they’re tempted to jump out of said car …or try and catch a falling car.

    And must outlaw people who are tempted to play Sopranos and lock themselves in a trunk… especially if it’s falling …or on a hoist …or falling off a hoist.

    …..and as for the Electric Window Five… aw, just leave them alone; those sound like Darwin Award nominees to me.

  • avatar

    Remember the old 70’s era Chevy station wagon with the power tailgate and glass? The window powered up into the roof and the gate powered down into the lower body. I’m certain somebody got “bit” in half by one of those monsters.

  • avatar

    Gee Taurus, the fact that the five that died due to power windows were all likely under the age of six means nothing to you? Can a toddler in training undies qualify for a Darwin?

  • avatar

    Still this seems to be highly preventable, as every car I’ve ever owned has a lockout button for the power windows. Also, most cars with auto-up windows have obstacle detection that will lower the window if it encounters resistance when going up.

    Most cars require you to pull up on the control to raise the window, and make it very, very hard to do so in the event of, say, a child standing on the panel, by physically obstructing the control so that the operation has to be deliberate. No lockout or sensor required.

    Many manufacturers, up until recently, used a simple rocker switch that a child standing on the control panel could activate. It’s made worse by the fact that many of those manufacturers were already using the “safer” switch in some of their sub-brands: Saab, for example, was using safe switches since at least 1992 and possibly earlier—and placing them in between the front seats, instead of on the armrests—while the simple toggles were in place in mainline GM cars for years afterwards.

    ETA: there’s another note about the same situation at Ford and Mazda above.

  • avatar

    dean :were all likely under the age of six

    Actually all the deaths are tragic, kids and adults.

    I chose to intentionally take an obviously way-over-the-top, ironic-sardonic-humorous “lets-protect-everyone-from-everything” jab at this study (or actually a pre-emptive poke at those who will surely call for more regulations of some sort based on this study).

  • avatar

    Ok, my first question is….how can an American be “undocumented”? Or does the article mean that not all accidents are documented?

    If you are an American by birth you have a birth certificate, right? If you are an American by naturalization, likewise, you have naturalization papers.

    Color me confused.

  • avatar

    I have never tried it but I have always assumed that they had some sort of current limit on them to limit the force they could generate. Okay, good to know…

    Note to self…

  • avatar

    Sounds to me like a good, solid reason to decrease, once again, the speed limits … huh!?!

  • avatar

    We really need to ban all cars. No, lets ban people. That way no one will be around to suffer and die! Save the children!


  • avatar
    tesla deathwatcher

    We had a scare several years ago. My son (8 at the time) stuck his head out the window and then somehow pushed the button to raise the window. He couldn’t cry out because the window was cutting off his air, and I didn’t notice him. Luckily, my wife saw his arms flailing, and rushed in to lower the window.

  • avatar

    A 2003 (or so) Ford pickup almost did in my brother-in-law’s dog. It was in the cab and the driver’s window was open a few inches. The space between the top of the window and the top of the door was greater than the space between the slanted front part of the window and the slanted front part of the door. So when it stuck its head out the window and then slid down the front part it was trapped. I saw what happened and rescued the mutt, which still won’t have anything to do with me. My point here is that the same thing could happen to a little kid left in a car for a short time. Chances are the front door windows on most cars are this way; it’s so on all three of my vehicles.

    This didn’t happen when we had vent windows. (/old fart rant)

  • avatar

    I was under my car changing the transmission oil yesterday and I gotta say, every time I get under a car on jacks it freaks me right the f out.

  • avatar
    Michael Ayoub

    168 individuals are killed each year by falling vehicles.

    Damn it. I hate it when that happens!

  • avatar

    Knew a guy (Brit) who was under the car changing oil when the jack went over. The car fell on and cracked his skull. There was no one there. He could either lay there and die…or he could stretch out his arm (while his head was pinned) and work the jack to free himself. He did the latter, then called 911. He was still seeing double a year later.
    He was a sharp guy, but *all* of us do something stupid sooner or later…and if the nickel drops on us, we take the hit just like someone with a below-room temperature IQ. The harder they come, the harder they fall, one and all.

  • avatar

    dolo54, get some ramps. I don’t like being under jackstands either. I usually use the jack (a real one) for backup in combination with two jackstands if I can’t use ramps.

  • avatar

    @ rpn453: my car’s too low to go up ramps, unless I find some really long ones, which I’ve never seen. As it is I have to drive on a few 2×4 laid out in front of the front wheels just to get the jack under. But I use the factory stand points and new stands. It’s really more psychological than anything. 3000+ lbs hovering 2 inches over you just doesn’t feel good.

  • avatar

    Anti-safety people make me crazy.

    Almost all accidents occur because of unsafe behaviors or conditions.

    Almost all unsafe behaviors can be curbed by education. People need to be taught, and reminded to act safely, enforcement is reserved for those whose behaviors harm others.

  • avatar

    dzwax> The problem is:

    * All people will do unsafe stuff. They are human.
    * Enforcement is reserved for revenue generation at the local level, not safety.
    * There is no guaranteed safe way to travel.
    – Motorcycle ? Cars are dangerous
    – Cars/trucks? Semis are dangerous
    – Train? Well, your engineer could be sending sms messages to teenagers
    – Flight? Probably the safest way to travel out there, but not practical for local travel
    – Walking? You could trip and crack your head.

    Depending on your PoV, ALL of these could be considered unsafe behavior. There is no black/white line of “safe” and “not safe”

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