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Q: auto power windows, door locks ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   5 Comments )
Subject: auto power windows, door locks
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: digsalot-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 14 Apr 2006 05:02 PDT
Expires: 14 May 2006 05:02 PDT
Question ID: 718813
A bit of an editorial and a question.  I was just made aware of
another auto accident where a friend was killed because of the failure
of power windows and door locks trapping him inside the car.  The car

When a car's electrical power fails, so do the power door locks and windows.
 I have found through research of my own that the failure of power
windows and locks has been responsible for many deaths that otherwise
could have been avoided.

I am wondering if any of you know of any group advocating a return to
standard windows and door locks on automobiles - or at least demanding
that such standard locks and windows be made an option on all new
automobiles sold in the US, or elsewhere for that matter.

I, for one have never driven with the door locked since I watched my
roommate die by being burned alive during an accident in New York
State several years ago.

Now I have a new car.  The doors automatically lock when the engine is
turned off. Frightening!

Perhaps I'm being paranoid, but I feel we have made a social agreement
to trade safety for convenience when it comes to many of the new
automatic features we blithly accept on our new automobiles.

Seat belts are required, which is good.  Is anybody addressing the
dangers of being trapped inside a car when the power fails?

It is very real.  Power locks and windows should be done away with, or
at least an option provided to purchase a car with standard windows
and locks, which does not now exist.

Please, if any of you know of an advocacy group addressing this issue,
I would like to know about it.

Thank you
Subject: Re: auto power windows, door locks
Answered By: knowledge_seeker-ga on 14 Apr 2006 15:05 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi Digs, 

I'm terribly sorry to hear about your friend. You'll be relieved to
hear that there are already laws in the works that address the problem
of vehicles trapping their owners inside and already some
manufacturers have taken steps to install safety features.

Here's what I've found out: 



"? Integrated Safety Systems device from Delphi Automotive in Troy,
Mich., can detect and extinguish fires, release seatbelts and unlock
car doors. Automatic shut-off of the fuel pump and engine are supposed
to prevent fires caused by ruptured fuel lines. When an accident
happens at night, the car illuminates itself and flashes warning
lights, helping rescuers to locate the wreckage."



There is a current push (by the US govt) to incorporate such a system
in all new cars.

Through the Integrated Vehicle-Based Safety Systems initiative, the
USDOT is seeking to establish a partnership with the automotive,
commercial vehicle, and transit vehicle industries to accelerate the
introduction of integrated vehicle-based safety systems into the
Nation's vehicle fleet.

GOAL: All new vehicles will be equipped with integrated safety systems
that help them effectively avoid the most common types of deadly

? Fewer, less severe crashes
? Fewer injuries and fatalities
? Reduced impacts of crashes on transportation systems



Some manufactures have already started installing the systems, each
using its own proprietary name.

Enhanced Accident Response System (EARS) ? In the event of an
accident, this system makes it easier for emergency personnel to see
and reach the occupants by turning on the interior lighting and
unlocking the doors after air bag deployment. It also shuts off the
flow of fuel to the engine

All-new 2006 Dodge Charger Fortified with Latest Automotive Safety Technology

Appears to be in all new Dodge/Chrysler/Jeeps

GOOGLE: "Enhanced Accident Response System"


POST-SAFE also helps to prevent follow-on accidents and makes it
easier to locate the accident vehicle by automatically activating the
hazard warning lights. The doors unlock automatically and are easy to
open, which speeds up rescue times for the people inside.

Mercedes Post-Safe


If a certain severity of crash is detected, all doors automatically
unlock, the battery terminal automatically disconnects, the fuel
supply is automatically terminated, warning hazards are automatically
engaged, high consumption electrical components are automatically shut
off and an emergency signal is automatically sent to OnStar Telematics
(if equipped). If you didn't catch that, it all happens automatically
so no need to worry. These steps greatly minimize the possibility of
trapped occupants and fire.

VW Intelligent Crash Response


And a couple of related patents for safety systems for cars. ..


Hot vehicle safety system and methods of preventing passenger
entrapment and heat suffocation

Accident responsive safety release for a motor vehicle's rear door
child-lock device


Let me know if you need anything else or have any questions, 



Search terms: 

auto safety accident unlock lock
vehicle safety unlock trapped
car doors unlock accident fire

"doors unlock automatically" vehicle
"unlock automatically" car
"unlock automatically" accident
"locks release automatically" 
"Integrated Safety Systems" automobile
"Intelligent Crash"
digsalot-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00

Subject: Re: auto power windows, door locks
From: hammer-ga on 14 Apr 2006 05:39 PDT

Sort of on a tangent: Your local dealership service department can
turn off the automatic door locking feature. I had mine turned off
because I was afraid of being locked out of my car with the keys in
while it was warming up. My car automatically locks the doors when the
car moves.

- Hammer
Subject: Re: auto power windows, door locks
From: wraithman07-ga on 14 Apr 2006 05:50 PDT
There is a device that you use to break open an auto window.  In the
event of an emergency, MANY people would be either too disoriented or
badly injured to operate a manual window.  Door locks, even manual
ones, aren't always able to unlock the door because an external force
on the outside (i.e., water or another vehicle/barrier) can prevent
the door from opening.  Escape through a car window is more often the
fastest and safest way to exit a vehicle in such an emergency.  And in
the event of a car going into the water, the fastest way to escape is
by lowering the car window with a power window.

You are correct in that power windows and locks can fail, but cutting
the seat belt and breaking the window to escape in an auto emergency
is still the fastest way.  If you're lucky enough to be able to not be
too injured to remove your seat belt, unlock the door manually, and
roll down a manual window before you can escape, and all done within a
manner of under a minute, then you're a very lucky person indeed.

Here is a link, using Google Search Results.  You can do the same
search on Froogle to find a good price on the product.  It seems the
LIFEHAMMER would be recommended as the best, but I would read reviews
on several products first.


Hope this helps.
Till then.
Subject: Re: auto power windows, door locks
From: digsalot-ga on 14 Apr 2006 07:17 PDT
Hammer - thanks for letting me know they can turn off some of the features.

Wraithman - Your points are good ones and I do keep a hammer in the
car.  But just as someone may be too disoriented to roll down a
window, they may also be too disoriented to use the hammer - and a
crash may very well jolt such a hammer out or reach, even if it is in
a 'secured' location.

I do not want to do away with the convenience of such locks and
windows, I would just like the option of not having to purchase them
in the first place.

The latest incident I spoke of had to do with not being able to get
the door opened from the 'outside' because of the failed lock.

Help arrived in time.  If the officer had been able to open the door
in a timely manner, John would have been out of the car and safe
before the fire became too strong.  According to the phone call I
received yesterday, he was conscious and beating on the inside of the
window as the flames grew.  He could not break the glass.

The accident in New York, I witnessed.  Similar situation and I will
not go into details describing the nightmare I watched.

A couple of years ago, two dear friends died by drowning during a
flood here in Ohio brought about by remnants of a hurricaine.  Auto
power failure was the reason they could not get out.

Perhaps that history is why I am making this such a personal crusade. 
I just wondered if I was alone in such thinking?

Subject: Re: auto power windows, door locks
From: neilzero-ga on 20 Apr 2006 21:23 PDT
Our ten year old vehicles lack most of the extra hazzard features. The
windstar has power windows and the passenger window cannot be opened,
but the electric locks have manual over ride, and the sliding door
behind the passenger seat would be an alternative to opening a window.
It is not easy to get from the front to the middle seats and could
well be impossible even with minor injury and/or disorintation. We
don't keep a hammer handy, but I think we have an alternative to a
hammer, but not handy to the front seats.
Discussing escape methods with car salesmen may be effective as they
don't want to lose a sale of cars that are people traps. Is it
possible to push the entire wind screen out as a single peice on
modern cars?  Neil
Subject: Re: auto power windows, door locks
From: lonnymac-ga on 05 May 2006 00:30 PDT
I have to apologize in advance.  I know that this comment will be lengthy.
I have been witness to over a thousand stories similar to yours.  It
has done nothing but sharpen my resolve.  I reiterate that this
commentary will be a little lengthy but I can never tell if the next
time I tell this story, it will be the spark that initiates a small
change that could make a big difference.

July 3, 1929, Blanche and Russell Warren are traveling on a road that
is now U.S. 101 in their 1927 Chevrolet.  The Warrens went missing
that day.  No one knew at the time, that they had gone into a nearby
lake in their 1927 Chevrolet.  Perhaps they missed a curve or fell
asleep.  They were not found for 72 years.  I have discovered in my
research many stories that tell of bodies found underwater inside
vehicles days, weeks, months, years, and even decades after they went
missing.  Cory Erving, the son of NBA basketball legend Julius Erving,
AKA ?Dr. J? went missing for six weeks in the summer of 2000 after
leaving the family home to purchase a loaf of bread.  Cory?s
disappearance prompted all kinds of speculation including kidnapping
theories.  The Erving family offered rewards for his safe return or
information of his whereabouts.  Cory?s body was found in his car
under water on July 6th of that year.

In 1961 a study conducted by the Michigan State police and Indiana
University concluded that 400 people a year died trapped in their
vehicles under water in North America.  It has been 45 years since
that story.  The numbers remain about the same year after year.

Online, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA,
posts statistics it collects through its Fatality Analysis Reporting
System or FARS website.  Currently available online is data dating
back to 1994.  According to FARS, since 1994, an average of 300 people
have died due to vehicle immersion drowning in this country every
year.  All tolled, in North America, every year for the past forty
years, more than 300 people a year have perished trapped in their cars

It is apparent, that since the passenger compartment of the automobile
was first enclosed, tens of thousands of people worldwide have died
because they couldn?t escape their vehicle as it slipped beneath the
surface of a lake, or river, or canal, or swimming pool or any body of
water that will allow a vehicle to completely submerge.  In many
unfortunate situations, people have drowned in water that they could
stand in.  Florida holds the distinction of having more vehicle
immersion deaths than any other state in the country.  A recent news
article featured the Delray Beach Fire Department?s Water Rescue Team.
 In the story, the reporter noted that since its inception in 1988,
the team has responded to around 15 calls a year where a car is
completely submerged in water with someone trapped inside.  In 2006
the first person was pulled out alive.  This stark detail shows that
it is nearly impossible for emergency services to get to an accident
of this nature in time to save a life.  The responsibility to get out
must lie with the occupants of the vehicle.

The sad part of all of this is that there is an abundance of available
evidence that readily establishes that this is an extremely survivable
accident most of the time.  In higher speed accidents where a vehicle
goes into the water, the vehicle bears the brunt of any impact in a
way that isolates the occupants from serious injury.  The water
decelerates said vehicle instead of causing an abrupt stop.  Occupants
are often very fit to enact their own self rescue.  As it turns out,
this is a surprisingly simple procedure.  Exit the vehicle and swim to
safety.  The one thing that is sure to prevent success is the
inability to exit the vehicle.

Interestingly enough, in a surprising number of cases, vehicles enter
the water at a relatively low speed.  These accidents are sometimes
the result of people making a wrong decision to enter a body of water,
making a wrong turn, putting a vehicle in the wrong gear or other
reasons that cause relatively benign, trauma free accidents.

Regardless of the methodology that puts a vehicle in the water, it is
well established that a high number of these vehicle immersion
accidents are survivable due to the number of people that are seen
trying to escape entrapment by beating on the glass.  These stories
are often shared again and again by witnesses that are incapable of
helping.  Another survivability indicator is the percentage of bodies
that are found in the very back part of the vehicle.  This is relevant
because in most cases an engine pushes the front end of the vehicle
down which causes an air bubble to rise and settle toward the now
elevated rear of the vehicle.  People that can?t break out of the
sinking car follow the air pocket until it is all gone or polluted to
the point that it can no longer sustain life.  Few people realize that
fluids in the engine compartment that are lighter than water make
their way into the passenger compartment through holes in the
floorboard making the air unbreathable.

Despite the previous two explanations, the main reason that we know
with absolute certainty, that in most cases this is a survivable
accident is the fact that an estimated ten thousand vehicles a year
end up in the water. Other than the approximately three hundred
tragedies a year where the victims die, everyone else survives.  It
appears that the main difference between the people that live and
those that die is an occupant?s ability to exit a vehicle.

Technology has lead to some painful consequences regarding vehicle
immersion drowning.  In all too many recent accidents, people have had
time to call loved ones or rescue services on their cell phone.  The
calls have run the gamut from remorseful farewells from people that
have conceded their fate knowing full well that no one can get there
in time to hysterical pleading from people terrified of the fate that
they realize awaits them.  One interesting call from a KCBS radio
reporter from San Francisco named Doug Sovern went unanswered for
nearly twenty minutes.  Doug, while sinking ever further into the
water was put on hold.  As water filled the passenger compartment,
Doug listened to a recording.  Doug?s call was to 911.  In the end, he
found a resource that allowed him to save himself (scroll down to ?Against all Odds?)
He got out by breaking the glass.

Over the years, I?ve documented the deaths of infants to seniors,
ordinary people to government officials.  I?ve recorded anomalies like
the family that stopped to look at the lake Susan Smith used to drown
her children only to roll into the water themselves, become trapped,
and die.  Some stories touched me like the one about a young United
States Marine named Ryan Zimmerman who was just going to be at home on
leave for a few days over the holidays.  This homecoming turned out to
be his last (scroll down to the
story that features his name in the title.) A story of Sharon Stone?s
near tragedy on the set of a movie, reminded me that no one is immune.
 My thoughts sometimes wander to the loss of a Doctor named Karen
Gilhooly from Michigan.  Karen was driving her daughter along with two
of the child?s dearest friends to a dance performance.  In the dark of
night she made one wrong turn and slipped into the water.  She was
probably traveling a five miles an hour as she entered the water.  Too
late she realized something was wrong and tried to back out.  We know
this because her car was recovered with the transmission in reverse. 
Three families shattered because of a right turn when she needed a
left.  I can only imagine happenings inside the car as the realization
set in that nothing could be done.  Like so many accidents that I have
chronicled, this was not the first vehicle submersion death at this

In the years that I have been doing this, I have seen a full spectrum
of ideas to combat this problem.  In Florida, tens of millions of
dollars are being spent to erect barriers to stop this problem.  Since
the barriers have been going up, I still record stories of death in
Florida.  I?ve seen where a vehicle went over the barrier and ended up
in the water anyway as well as vehicles that went into the water in
locations where no barriers stand.  Barriers are expensive,
restrictive, ugly and present a false sense of security.  There is no
doubt that they will save lives but at what cost?

I?ve seen all kinds of ideas for new and improved systems to be added
to vehicles to combat this issue.  One system suggested huge airbags
deploy to keep the vehicle afloat.  A second system that I had to
question was one that rolled all of the windows down if a vehicle was
submerging.  I had to wonder what a parent with several kids would do
as water came rushing in and their kids were strapped through three
rows of a minivan.  I?ve seen automatic this, and automatic that and
new and improved this and new and improved that and on, and on, and

Looking at many of these solutions, I am reminded of the space shuttle
program.  The best of intentions, billions of dollars in the world?s
most sophisticated equipment, and a legacy marred by an ?O? ring
costing a few bucks.  I?m reminded of the Crown Victoria.  This car
had a single weakness exposed do to the fact that when used for police
work, cars are sometime rear ended at high speed causing violent
crashes that in these cases ignited fuel.  I?m reminded that sometimes
ferry doors don?t seal causing them to flood and the boat sinks.  I?m
reminded that engines are known to fall of airplanes on occasion and
even in modern warfare there are still friendly fire incidents.  All
this leads anyone like me with average intelligence to conclude that
despite the very best of intentions, systems sometimes fail.  In an
automobile, if the failed system is a luxury like air conditioning,
the result is an inconvenience.  If a safety system fails, it could
spell a trip to the hospital or morgue.

In the end, It has amazed me that a simple, practical, effective,
inexpensive way to give people that are ready and able to break out of
a vehicle, the means to do so has been so thoroughly disregarded.  I?m
confounded that a solution that could be immediately made available to
start saving lives has been ignored while experts strain to perfect
systems that would cost markedly more money.

The solution that I talk about is called the Escape Tip?.  It is a
tiny, unobtrusive addition to the male end or latch plate of a
seatbelt assembly.  In hundreds of tests, several performed under the
watchful eye of television news coverage, the Escape Tip? has not
failed once. (click on the videos on the main page.)
 This straightforward idea conforms to a wisdom hard gained over the
years that if you want something done right, do it yourself. 
Statistics prove beyond all doubt that this is especially applicable
in vehicle immersion accidents.  How many people truly want to put
their faith 100% into an automatic system to save their lives without
at least a solid back up that allows them to get themselves out if
?all else fails?.  Most drivers trust their steel belted radial tires
but still keep a spare ?just in case?.  At a hotel, I always take an
elevator when I want to get up to my room and down to the lobby and
yet I really appreciate the fact that the stairs are there ?just in
case?.  Airborne soldiers can go their whole jump career deploying
only the main parachute but, they all wear the reserve ?just in case?
Who can deny that the KISS theory or Keep It Simple Stupid is based on
years and years of trial and error?  I think that the Escape Tip? is a
simple, effective, and inexpensive proposition for a problem that has
proven a persistent killer for more than half a century.  I think that
pushing the envelope of auto safety is a good idea and yet a little
voice in the back of my head tells me that at the same time it would
be prudent to provide an ?all else fails? backup ?just in case?.

Some of the many benefits of the Escape Tip? system include: 
?         Providing all people from the front seats to the back seats,
that are trapped in vehicles with the means to break a side window and
exit through the opening, when, and only when, they are ready.
?         Providing access to the necessary tools at all seating
positions affording redundancy as well as an escape option for all
?         Providing the tools in known and consistent locations within
all Escape Tip® Equipped? vehicles.
?         Passengers are not dependant upon access to the glove box,
or other driver oriented locations, where an automotive hammer or
other tool might be stored.
?         The Tools can not become lost or misplaced in vehicle
roll-over accidents.
?         Occupants? seatbelts must be removed before the Tools can be
used This insures that they are free to exit as soon as the window is
?         The Tools are already in the hands of trapped occupants and
ready for use after simply taking off their seatbelts.
?         Providing a means of exit when a vehicle?s doors are
inoperable, due to an accident, power failure or other incident.
?         Providing a means of exit when a vehicle?s rear doors are
locked via the child safety locks, which are currently mandated in all
new passenger vehicles.
?         Using the product is simple, nearly fail safe, and you can
use it again immediately if you do not succeed on the first attempt.
?         The Tools can?t ?go off? accidentally or prematurely.
?         The Tools do not interfere with normal operation of the seatbelts.
?         The Tools are simple to manufacture with no moving parts.
?         The Tools have very nominal manufacturing costs.
?         The Tools will save lives.

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