The automakers have been given a two-year extension, until October 2010, to comply with requirements that power window switches have a "pull-to-close" design to prevent children from accidentally leaning on a switch and closing a window on their limbs, head or neck. While most new cars and light-duty trucks will have the switches sooner than 2010, a few models may still have recessed or shrouded “rocker” or “toggle” switches.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) permitted continued use of rocker and toggle switches when it revised the power window rule (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 118) in 2004. It revised the rule again in 2006 to permit only pull-to-close switches, as required by Congress.

In its most recent action (July 2008), the NHTSA withdrew an exemption from the pull-to-close switch requirement if a sunroof or window had automatic reversal capability (Section S5 of FMVSS No. 118). While acknowledging that the switch is then a redundant feature, the agency did not believe that it had the authority to craft an exemption under the language of the 2006 Congressional mandate. 

The NHTSA also noted that a new safety law enacted in February 2008 requires the agency to consider mandating automatic reversal systems. The systems are currently voluntary equipment. NHTSA will initiate a separate rulemaking on that topic. 

For a copy of NHTSA’s July 2008 action:

For a copy of FMVSS No. 118:

Details: Stuart Gosswein at