Positive Post of the Day: NHTSA Introduces Power Window Safety Standard

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has unveiled a new regulation mandating automatic reversal capability on power windows and panels with “express-up” or “one-touch closing” operation. The proposed reg [ pdf here] extends the NHTSA’s power portal caveat, which currently directs manufacturers to fit their products with “recessed switches to minimize the likelihood of accidental activation.” The actual language of the public consultation doc is a bit, uh, misleading: “The amendment would require power windows and panels on motor vehicles to automatically reverse direction [through force-sensing technology] when such power windows and panels detect an obstruction to prevent children and others from being trapped, injured, or killed.” Anyway, according to the agency, “approximately 6 fatalities and 1,955 injuries result every year from the operation of vehicle power window systems.” The tales are as horrific as they are infrequent. Whilst welcoming the move, one wonders how many KSIs result from the “normal” operation of car doors.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • 50merc 50merc on Aug 28, 2009

    The old British puppets-as-real-people parody show "Spitting Image" had a skit with a ditzy president Reagan in bed. On the wall were two red buttons, close together and identical except one had the word "Nurse" on it and other said "Nuke." That must have been the inspiration for those "push down to raise window" buttons. Idiotic, as if the intention was to make disaster more likely. P.S. If you think the show was harsh on Reagan, you should see how they portrayed the Royal Family. I was ROFL.

  • BuzzDog BuzzDog on Aug 29, 2009
    @Robert Schwartz: "It has only been 50 years since power windows started to appear in cars..." Actually, it's been almost 70 years. Power windows were available in the early 1940s on Packards. Which makes your point even stronger.
  • Tosh Tosh on Aug 29, 2009

    That momlogic website linked to in this story said three kids died that week (in 2008) from being left inside a hot car. At this rate of KSI (I picked up a new term) and NHTSA's rate, how many decades before we see occupant distress sensors? Apparently all it takes for NHTSA to put pen to paper is some populist outrage like the Explorer-Firestone under-inflation rollovers and poof! there's a new car nanny. How long before cell phone jammers? How about effectively teaching some road rules instead? On the other hand, I'll bet three orders of magnitude more people are KSI slipping in the tub or falling off ladders, but tubs and ladders are still sold to the (unwashed) masses. Accidents happen, and let's take reasonable well-researched and proven steps to prevent them, instead of knee-jerk laws. I predict the unintended consequences of these power window force sensors will cause a large number of windows to just reverse themselves as soon as they close, never staying shut. I hope my current car lasts forever....

  • Accs Accs on Aug 29, 2009

    Man... I know those switches are off of a Taurus. But why Ford waited so long to get the standard down is beyond me.. My 92 Accord has the pull up / push down flush switches... Really.. How old is this ad?