Safety Advocates Warn About Vehicle Power Window Hazards

JUNE 23, 2004 -- Posted at: 7:30pm CDT

JONESBORO, AR - You car's power windows could be a death trap for your children.

Each year a few children are killed, and more than 500 kids suffer from broken bones and other injuries. Often they are leaning out the window, they put their knee on the window's button and 40 pounds of force is soon on their throats.

"We've had hair, fingers, ears, you know they've got their head sticking out the window and we're rolling up the window and we don't know about it," said Prudence Fraze, a mother of three kids.

So far Prudence Fraze's children and the kids who have ridden in her vehicles have only had minor injuries from power windows rolling up accidentally.

"Well I got my fingers stuck in the window," explained 10 year old Kendra Dooley. "Like, they were rolling up the window and like my fingers were there."

Fraze added, "No broken bones or anything. A little missing hair, and that's about it."

Other children haven't been as lucky. In fact, a children's advocacy group named "Kids and Cars" claims that from March 30th to June 6th at least 6 children have been strangled in power windows. The latest victim is Haley Chappell.

Her mother said, "It happened so fast, and it's so silent that you don't know."

Law enforcement officials in Jonesboro and Craighead County said they don't remember working a case where a child was severely injured or killed because of a power window. Safe Jonesboro Coalition Director Mike Smith believes parents need to focus on other hazards vehicles create that kill far more children each year in Arkansas.

"The first thing we're seeing is about half of the kids riding in vehicles do not have a child safety seat," said Smith. "The second thing in Arkansas, we're seeing probably a 90 percent misuse rate."

The main problem is that safety seats and harnesses aren't buckled tight enough.

As for accidents with power windows, modifications on vehicle designs would prevent many of them. Most windows don't have an automatic reverse that activates if the window hits something. Lever buttons would help prevent the problem. You have to push down to lower the window, but it will only close if it's pulled up.

Prudence Fraze said she used what's available inside her vehicle to keep kids from hurting themselves.

"We always have the windows locked," explained Fraze.

Our U.S. legislators are re-working versions of the transportation bill. The senate version does contain many safety provisions that will make vehicles much safer for children. Contact them if you have concerns about the safety of children when it comes vehicles.


AR - Blanche Lincoln (D) -- (202) 224-4843

AR - Mark Pryor (D) -- (202) 224-2353

MO - Christopher Bond (R) -- (202) 224-5721

MO - James Talent (R) -- (202) 224-6154