If your automobile’s windshield is cracked or damaged, you are probably aware of the importance of having a Houston windshield replacement or repair service take care of it to help prevent an injury. This is especially true if you have children and are concerned about the harm they could suffer if the glass broke or impaired visibility due to windshield damage caused you to get into an accident. However, while a professional Houston auto glass repair company can resolve issues with your windshield, your children may still be in danger in your automobile if you have power windows.
The Hidden Danger Of Power Windows
Power windows seem pretty innocuous and are a fairly convenient feature for many vehicles. However, due to the way the switches that control when windows go up and down, children who are leaning out of a window may be able to accidentally press the button or switch that makes a window go up. Since 1990, nearly 40 children have died as a result of this design flaw, and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 400 people annually end up needing medical treatment for accidents related to power windows.
Power windows can exert up to 80 pounds of upward force although only about 10 ponds are needed to overcome the weight of glass. The rest of the force is then applied to whatever happens to be between the window and the top of the door, which can be children’s fingers, limbs or even their neck.
There are two fairly simple ways to nearly eliminate the risks associated with children and power windows: change the way that switches are designed and/or add autoreverse sensors, like the ones that are used in automatic garage doors. Three of the most common types of power window switches are rocker switches, which move back and forth to raise and lower glass, toggle switches, which are pulled or pushed, and lever switches, which are safe because they require you to pull up to make the window go up.
Lack Of Safety Regulations
In 2000 in Europe, lawmakers passed legislation that required automakers to manufacture vehicles with safety switches no later than 2003. As a result, 80 percent of European automobiles have auto-reverse mechanisms. However, in the United States, less than 10 percent of vehicles sold by GM, Ford and DaimlerChrysler have this feature. In spite of frequent calls by safety organizations to the NHTSA to impose regulations similar to European ones, the government organization resists doing so.
According to the NHTSA, the costs of requiring these safety measures outweigh the potential benefits, but according to industry experts, features would only cost around $10 per window or $40 per vehicle. In fact, while U.S. automakers are still using unsafe switches in new vehicles, many foreign automakers have already adopted newer and safer controls of their own accord.
What You Can Do
Since it does not look like automakers will be compelled to ensure that safer power window switches are standard any time soon, you have a few options for ensuring the safety of your children. The simplest method is to use a power window lock feature if your vehicle has one. This feature can lock down power windows and prevents passengers from rolling windows up or down, and since repeated use of power windows can wear out window motors prematurely, doing this may save you a trip to a Houston auto glass repair shop.
If your vehicle does not have this feature, your best option is to make sure that you do not leave children alone in a vehicle with the keys in the car. When it comes time to purchase a new automobile, consider looking for one that has the safer power window switches or at least has a master power window control system.