The POWER of Safety: Power Windows in Cars Are a Hidden Danger

What goes up must come down. True or false? I never really gave it much thought until I started to write this post. I’m probably giving my age away, but do any of you remember having to manually use your hand to crank open and close the window in your first vehicle? Okay, so maybe you’re not that old, but you vaguely remember having to do that in your mom or dad’s vehicle when you were a child. Thank goodness for technology, right? Now you simply push a button and presto: automatically the windows in your vehicle come up and down with the flick of a finger. However, technology is NOT always good, better or safer! Did you know that every year approximately two thousand people, half of them children, are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries related to power windows because the window that goes up, does NOT always come down?!

The Danger of Power Windows

Power windows can exert an upward force of 30-80 pounds of force. It takes a meager 22 pounds of force to suffocate or injure an infant, and it simply takes TWO pounds of force to activate the window switch. Yes, you read it right: a mere TWO pounds of pressure activates the window switch. Over 50 children have been killed by power windows since 1990. Thousands of children have been injured, most of them age three or younger, with innumerable suffering brain injuries and amputations to fingers.

The following is a public service announcement from KidsAndCars, a nonprofit child safety organization dedicated to preventing injuries and deaths to children in and around motor vehicles. This shows the dangers and deadly force of power windows. Please take 30 seconds to watch. It could save a child’s life.

Automatic Reversing Systems

You may be wondering: how can this happen? Surely, if a child presses or accidentally kneels on the window switch and activates the window to rise and his fingers, arm or head is hanging out the window, when the window touches that object, it is going to automatically reverse, right? Unfortunately, if the vehicle is not equipped with automatic reversing systems (ARS) and a child’s fingers, arm or head is hanging out the window, it will not automatically reverse when it meets contact, which can result in serious injury or even death.

Why isn’t it mandatory that all vehicles sold in the United States have ARS? This doesn’t make sense to me. Do you have a garage at home? Did you know the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) required on January 1st of 1991 that ALL garage door openers manufactured or imported for sale in the United States have reversing systems? Even elevators have ARS. Having ARS in vehicles seems like a simple fix to protect our children from serious injury or even death due to power windows, but sadly it isn’t a legal requirement.

Please watch this 30 second public service announcement from KidsAndCars that illustrates why it is imperative that all vehicles should have ARS technology.

So what can you do to prevent a tragic accident like this from happening?

  • First and foremost, establish if you have ARS in ALL of your windows of your vehicle. Surprisingly, some vehicles only have ARS in the FRONT and some only have it in the “express” or one-touch mode. If you are unsure if your vehicle is equipped with ARS, you can test your windows using a water bottle and try to raise the window up with it obstructing the way.
  • Make sure if you have safety locks for your windows that they are on lock so children are not able to play or activate the switches. Examine your window switches. Do you have the more risky design switches that are easier to activate like the horizontal rocker switches or toggle switches, or do you have the safer lever design that have to be pulled up to activate?
  • It is important to never leave children unattended in vehicles and always teach older children about the dangers associated with power windows.
  • In addition, we should rally and demand to the auto manufactures that every vehicle should come with ARS on all power windows, just like garage doors and elevators!

Be honest … did you ever think power windows could cause serious injuries or death to your child? What will you do to help spread the word about the dangers of power windows to assist with keeping our children safe?

17 COMMENTS

  1. don’t forget if you ever go in the water in your car, your power windows will NOT work (short out in the water), and have to be broken in order for you to get out, unless rolled down while entering water. Something to remember if you live in LA.- keep a window break tool in your car!

    • Nicole, thanks for adding such important information on this topic. You are exactly right about everyone living in Louisiana needing one of these tools. I actually have one in my car right now because I use to commute to work on causeway everyday. Another safety issue that people may have never thought about. Thanks again for pointing it out!

    • I recently had a car accident 3 months ago and someone T-Bone me up here in Canada. By the time the car came to a stop I ended up on my side broken collarbone screaming in pain trying to get out of the car unfortunately I couldn’t get out because the power windows would not work. The rescue had to break my windshield in the front to get me out talk about scary. I smell gas so I shut off the ignition because I was afraid that if the car started on fire I couldn’t get out so if you’re ever in a vehicle and you smell gas shut off the ignition right away. But my point is I decided from now on I will never have a car again that doesn’t have the old fashioned crank windows. You’ll find them in the older Toyota vehicles around 1998 and older. And if you look at a 2019 Nissan versa.base model it will come with the crank down or manual windows. But after doing a little bit of research on the dangers of having power windows I says never again.
      I never really felt that way until I had my car accident and was put into a position where I couldn’t get out.
      In a way I am happy I had the car accident because if I did I wouldn’t even thought about having crank windows. You can find them in older vehicles if you do keep it to a low mileage and don’t pay too much for it .

  2. My first car had the crank windows and now that I have a baby…I wish my car still had it. Thanks for sharing.
    @NIcole I am glad that you said that…I had a dream (I have crazy dreams since I had my baby)…the dream was that I drove my car into the ocean or a lake or something…and I couldn’t get out. I woke up before the end but I was scared to death. I will definitely be getting a window break tool!

    • Amy, thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts. I am pretty sure most people have never given any thought to the dangers that power windows can cause. As a mom, I worry about many things that I never gave a second thought to before having babies. It is a scary thing raising children, but knowledge is power and education is key!

    • I thought of getting a little device to break the window but if you’re unconscious what good is that. Sure it’s a plus but if you keep it in the glove box what good is it if you are hit and everything goes flying. I recently had a car accident and everything shut right down so they had to smash the front window to get me out they could even open the doors because of the power door locks. I’m thinking of getting a older model vehicle such as a model from the 1990s or older providing it’s in real good condition and low mileage. However I read that a 2019 Nissan Versa comes with the standard windows and the standard doors and I’m thinking hey that’s awesome. I know this guy who just lost his best friend last year he went over the road into the river and everything locked right up the sensor was destroyed and he couldn’t get out of there. He spent two weeks in the hospital unconscious and died in the hospital he never seen his family again he was only 45 years old all because of a stupid car that would lock up.

    • Thanks Cathy! Remember to test ALL windows and note that some ARS only works with the express or one-touch mode. Glad you agree this information is so important! Be sure and share with your friends, grandparents, and caregivers!

  3. This was such an eye opener and so scary. I am SO vigilant about our car after your last post re: driveways. I think of it literally every day!

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