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Personal Finance > Autos

Safer car window switches coming
Regulators issue rule requiring new safeguards to avoid accidents to children.
September 13, 2004: 10:01 AM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - U.S. auto safety regulators introduced a rule Monday requiring automakers to install safer power window switches in all models within five years in a move to prevent injuries to children.

The rule issued by the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) does not indicate a specific design for the new switches, but bans "rocker" or "toggle" switches that can be unintentionally activated by children.

"This regulation will prevent the tragedy of a child's head or limb being caught in a power window," said NHTSA administrator Jeffery Runge in a statement.

"Although these incidents are infrequent, a simple, inexpensive remedy is available and should be standard practice."

The NHTSA said a search of death certificates indicated an average of three fatalities every two years through accidental use of power windows.

The consumer group Kids and Cars says at least 37 children have been killed when they unintentionally activated a window switch while leaning out a window, according to a report in USA Today.

The new rule is expected to accelerate the trend by automakers, many of which are already installing the safer switches in their models, the NHTSA said.

Current presidential candidate and consumer advocate Ralph Nader has said that power windows pose a threat to kids because they were "callously designed to thrust upward with cruel force," according to the USA Today.  Top of page

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