Earlier this month, a Memphis toddler was killed after becoming trapped in the rear window of her father's vehicle. Sadly, power windows are well-known for being child killers. Many safety advocates are saying this accident could have been prevented had manufacturers taken steps to remedy this known auto defect.
On the night of the accident, the 2-year-old girl and her two siblings were riding with their father in his SUV. The father parked at a Captain D's restaurant and briefly ran inside, leaving the car running.
When the father came outside approximately 10 minutes later, the toddler's airway had been cut off. She apparently had stuck her head out the window and then accidentally engaged the power window control. She became trapped between the glass and the door frame and couldn't get out.
The father performed CPR and then brought the girl to a nearby fire station. Unfortunately, her life could not be saved.
Sensors Would Have Prevented Accident
Perhaps the saddest element of this tragic accident is the fact that the toddler's entrapment was entirely preventable. For years, automotive safety groups have been calling on automakers to install auto-reverse sensors on power windows.
The sensors work much like auto-sensors on elevators and power garage doors; they won't allow the window to go up if something is in the way. Auto-reverse sensors would be a cheap fix to an unreasonably dangerous product - on average, they cost only $6 or $7 per window.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, power windows cause about 2,000 emergency room visits each year. The safety group KidsandCars.org thinks this is a low estimate. It also notes that at least 33 children were killed by power windows between 2001 and 2010.
Hopefully, automakers will take action on this issue soon. In the meantime, parents can help protect their children from power window accidents by keeping window locks engaged at all times.
Source: The Commercial Appeal, "Toddler Dies in SUV, Father Charged With Criminally Negligent Homicide," Linda A. Moore, April 2, 2012.