Road Management & Engineering Journal
Road Management & Engineering Journal
July 1, 1998
TranSafety, Inc.
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Injuries Associated with Hazards Involving Motor
Vehicle Power Windows

(This article is a reproduction of a May 1997 Research Note published by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.)

NHTSA's National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) recently completed a study of data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) on cases involving injuries associated with motor vehicle power windows. NEISS data on persons treated in hospital emergency rooms for these injuries were studied to determine the action or activity involved in producing the injury, the type of injury sustained and its severity, the part of the body most often injured, and the age of the person injured.

CPSC's NEISS collects data on a nationally representative sample of consumer product-related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms. NEISS, a three (3)-level system consisting of surveillance of emergency room injuries; follow-back telephone interviews with injured persons or witnesses; and comprehensive investigations with injured persons and/or witnesses, obtains data from a sample of 91 of the 6,127 hospitals nationwide with at least six beds that provide emergency care on a continuing 24-hour basis. The data on injuries associated with motor vehicle power windows are obtained through an agreement between NHTSA and CPSC to collect data on injuries associated with specific motor vehicle hazards.

During the period October 1, 1993 through September 30, 1994, data on ten (10) cases of injuries associated with motor vehicle power windows were obtained from CPSC's NEISS. Based upon these 10 cases, an estimated 499 persons were treated in hospital emergency room for injuries associated with motor vehicle power windows nationwide during the twelve month study period. Ninety-three percent (465/499) of the injured persons were injured in connection with passenger car power windows. Ninety- one percent (456/499) of those injured were treated and released from the emergency room without hospitalization. Tables 1 through 5 provide additional details on the persons injured during the period October 1, 1993 - September 30, 1994 by the action which produced the injury, the part of the body most severely injured, the injury diagnosis, the injury severity, and the age of the person injured, respectively. (The percentages may not add to 100% in every table due to rounding.)

As shown in Table 1, 88% of the estimated 499 persons injured were injured as a result of [unintentionally] closing the power window on a finger, wrist, or hand (either one's own or another person's). Another 4% were injured as a result of attempting to work on or repair the window and/or [were] cut by broken glass. Just under 9% attributed the cause of the injury to a "faulty" power window. Table 2 presents data on the diagnosis of the injury sustained by the estimated 499 persons injured. A large proportion were diagnosed as having a fracture (38%) or had a body part considered as crushed (30%).

TABLE 1
Estimated Number of Persons Injured by M/V
Power Windows by Injury Producing Action
October 1993 - September 1994

Injury Producing Action Estimated No. of Persons Injured % Total
Closing Window on a Hand, Wrist, or Finger 437 88%
Faulty Power Window 43 9%
Working on Power Window and/or Cut by Broken Glass 19 4%
Total 499 100%

TABLE 2
Estimated Number of Persons Injured by M/V
Power Windows by Injury Diagnosis
October 1993 - September 1994

Diagnosis Estimated No. of Persons Injured % Total
Fracture 192 38%
Crushing 150 30%
Contusion or Abrasion 77 15%
Dislocation 43 9%
Laceration 19 4%
Strain or Sprain 18 4%
Total 499 100%

For the majority of the 499 persons estimated to have been injured by power windows, the body part most severely injured was a finger (77%). In fact, all of the injuries sustained were confined to a portion of an upper extremity (finger, wrist, or hand). These data are presented in Table 3. As seen in Table 4, more than half (53%) of the injuries sustained were considered "minor." The majority (64%) of the persons injured were children under the age of fifteen, with half of these being under six years of age. Table 5 presents data on the age of the injured person. While none of these 10 CPSC cases included data on fatal injuries associated with motor vehicle power windows, NHTSA is aware of reported cases from other sources involving fatalities, particularly to children.

TABLE 3
Estimated Number of Persons Injured by M/V
Power Windows by Injured Body Part
October 1993 - September 1994

Body Part Injured Estimated No. of Persons Injured % Total
Finger 384 77%
Wrist 61 12%
Hand 54 11%
Total 499 100%

TABLE 4
Estimated Number of Persons Injured by M/V
Power Windows by Injury Severity
October 1993 - September 1994

Severity of Injury Estimated No. of Persons Injured % Total
Minor 264 53%
Moderate 235 47%
Total 499 100%

TABLE 5
Estimated Number of Persons Injured by M/V
Power Windows by Age
October 1993 - September 1994

Age of Person Estimated No. of Persons Injured % Total
0 - 5 158 32%
6 - 14 158 32%
15 - 29 68 14%
30 - 44 38 8%
45 - 59 43 9%
Over 60 Years 34 7%
Total 499 100%



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