August 19, 2003
I'd like to thank the Today show and Consumer Reports for undoing, at least
in small part, some of the damage the media (i.e., CBS 60 Minutes) did to
Audi about 15 years ago. Back then, around 1988, the topic was "sudden
acceleration." This morning, it was the safety of power windows in various
brands of passenger automobiles. This morning, the NBC's Today Show ran a
piece summarizing a Consumer Reports study on the danger posed to small
children by automobile power windows, particularly in American cars. A
similar piece has also run previously on several local television stations
across the country in recent weeks.
There are three types of power window switches, the piece informed the
audience, the rocker, the toggle, and the lever. A small child for some
reason left in a car who accidentally hits a rocker or toggle switch with a
foot, a knee, or an elbow could potentially cause the window to close,
trapping the child in the closed window and injuring or killing him. This
has happened at least 25 times in the United States, the piece reported.
Conversely, it is virtually impossible for a child to close a power window,
by inadvertently stepping on or hitting a switch of the lever type. A lever
switch requires that the user pull up on the switch with his finger.
Accidental closure is highly unlikely. Any accidental contact with such a
switch will cause the window to open rather than close.
The Today piece demonstrated examples of all three switch types. I believe
the toggle switch was in a Honda vehicle, and the rocker was in an American
car, but I didn't see it clearly.
The reporter did admit that not all cars sold in the US are equipped with
"dangerous" rocker or toggle switches. Some cars, mainly Europeans, have
the lever-type switch for power windows.
When the camera closed in on the example of the lever-type switch, I did
happen to notice four interlocking rings, the trademark of Audi. As the
camera panned back, a two-toned station wagon that could only be an Audi
Allroad became evident.
The help that the Today show provided to boost Audi's image today was
slight; only those few of us who already drive Audis (and probably
Volkswagens, too) would recognize the vehicle as an Audi. Clearly, the news
piece was not intended to single out any brand of automobile. However, the
news media could and should do a much deserved justice to Audi by
proclaiming clearly that Audis are extremely safe vehicles, as evidenced
today in small part by the fact that they have lever-type power window
Ch ris Ko rff
1999 Audi A4
2000 Audi A6
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