Law & Order

Feds Move to Protect Children from Rollaway Vehicles and Power Windows, Question Effectiveness of Antilock Brakes

According to a report issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), antilock brake systems have been effective in preventing crashes, especially when combined with an electronic stability control (ESC) system. Nevertheless, the report contains an unexplained rise in accidents in which an ABS-equipped vehicle “ran off the road.”

The NHTSA notes that this may diminish as ESC systems are installed on all passenger vehicles by 2011. The report is based on crash data collected between 1997 and 2007. The report revealed significant reductions in collisions with pedestrians and other vehicles and noted that the ABS is particularly effective on wet pavements and in improving overall vehicle stability during braking.

Follow this link to read the report.

The NHTSA will also soon require all automatic-transmission vehicles be equipped with an interlock device that requires the brake pedal be pressed before the driver can shift the transmission out of “park." The action is required under a law passed in 2008 designed to protect children from vehicle rollaways in which a car is inadvertently shifted into neutral or another gear.

The NHTSA is proposing to amend Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 114 (Theft Protection and Rollaway Prevention) to mandate a brake transmission shift interlock device on all passenger cars and light trucks weighing 10,000 pounds or less. 

The NHTSA also plans to require “one-touch closing” windows include a function to automatically reverse direction when an obstruction is detected. The goal is to minimize the likelihood of death or injury from the accidental operation of power windows. The rule amends FMVSS No. 118 (Power-Operated Window, Partition, and Roof Panel Systems). The agency has tentatively concluded that the automatic reversal system is not required on all power windows, just windows with one-touch closing.

For the other power windows, the NHTSA believes the potential threat of accidentally closing windows on limbs and necks is mitigated through pull-to-close design switches which are required under a 2008 rule change.

For additional information, contact Stuart Gosswein.