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I'm European and I don't understand the logic behind electric car windows commands. In a lot of cars, a driver can fully open the electric window on his side with a single push. But if he wants to fully open a passenger's windows he has to keep the pressure on the button.

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Isn't a bad user experience for the driver ? It's even dangerous because he has to drive with one arm during all the process.

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It is the cheapest possible solution that complies with regulations. –  Alex Feinman Dec 26 '13 at 14:03

6 Answers 6

up vote 6 down vote accepted

This is very definitely a safety design.

What you will find is a feature known as "auto reverse", this means when the window is going up if a obstruction is detected it will sense it and go back down.

In America this feature was/is required with vehicles that have "one touch up" (what you have described). I have found several sources saying this is currently being reviewed (2012) but I can't find anything to see if this law has been retracted. The reason they were trying to retract it is because even with the auto reverse people were still being seriously injured, so still the safest option is not to have the "one touch up" option at all.

The reason you have it on the drivers side is actually again a safety feature, it allows the driver to return their hands to the steering wheel. The reason it is not on the passenger windows I imagine is due to cost of placing it on all windows.

It is also worth noting that the placement of window switches and the types of switches is something that has been scrutinised as certain placements and designs have been blamed in cases of injury or even death.

This NHTSA document has a lot of information about US laws (2004) it is very long and wordy so I haven't read it but should cover any points!

Lastly: I understand you are in Europe (as am I) so these US documents aren't neccessarily applicable but they should answer all your questions and provide enough reasoning for not offering one touch up on passenger windows in your region!

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It seems to me the OP was asking about the 'one touch down' feature, not a one touch up feature. –  Andrew Neely Feb 9 at 19:26

I think for safety reason. As both buttons sit closely, a driver could push the passenger button by mistake. Pushing isn't visually controlled process.

Fully opened window by mistake brings danger, as there could be children, pets, etc. on the passengers' seats or dangerous environment outside the car. So this is an example of making potentially danger action hard (more controlled) for the safety reason.

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Slightly far-fetched perhaps? It is about safety but not to avoid opening the wrong window. The safety is in enabling the driver to get his/her hands back to where they belong (driving the car, not opening/closing windows) as quickly as possible. –  Marjan Venema Dec 26 '13 at 11:55

Another alternative explaination to safety is convenience. Imagine what you do while driving into a car park. You need to pull the window down completely to access the terminal that either brings you a parking ticket or you can open the gate using your credit card or another valid parking device. Having to push and hold would make that process difficult, inconvenient and unsafe.

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I think the question is about why the feature does not exist on the passenger's side as well and not why it may be useful on the driver's one. –  Pierre Dutheil Feb 9 at 18:03
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There are also situations where as a driver you need to roll the window right down and look behind you if you are reversing. Obviously you only need stick your head out of the drivers window to do this –  PhillipW Feb 9 at 18:59

I have the same thing in my French car.

I figured that this is an upgrade from previous models where both windows would be opened manually. Then this was introduced for the driver, so as to quickly press the window button and put his/her hand quickly back on the steering wheel, versus having to press and hold on the window button until the window is fully open.

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+1 Yes, it is to enable the driver to get his/her hands back to where they belong (driving the car, not opening/closing windows) as quickly as possible. –  Marjan Venema Dec 26 '13 at 11:55

The normal reason for opening a window fully is to allow someone inside the car to interact with someone or something outside the car (windows are often opened partially for ventilation). In most cases where passengers would need windows fully open, they could handle the job themselves--even while the vehicle is in motion--without demanding any attention from the driver.

Because cars generally have only one switch which disables all passenger window controls, rather than having a separate switch for each passenger, a situation may arise where at least one passenger cannot be trusted with the controls, but one of the other passengers would benefit from having a window fully opened while the vehicle is in motion. Such situations are too rare to justify extra expense in their accommodation; further, they could best be accommodated not by adding automatic controls to the other windows, but by allowing passengers' controls to be locked out selectively.

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A driver may need to roll his window down to

  • Access an ATM
  • pay for parking or access a parking lot by card swipe
  • pass money and food while going through a drive through
  • pass registration information to a police officer
  • allow outside air inside.

All but the last one will necessitates rolling the window competently down. In the last use-case, rolling the window down completely with one touch is not the optimal, since the the designer cannot assume that the user wishes the maximum amount of airflow.

Since none of the other design considerations impact the passengers, it makes sense not to implement this feature (at a cost savings, I am sure.)

In addition to cost savings and more user centered design, there is the safety aspect of accidentally rolling a window completely down next to a child or pet like Alexey Kolchenko mentioned.

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As I noted in my answer, passengers may also need to do things similar to the above, but they can generally operate the windows themselves without having to drive the vehicle at the same time. –  supercat Feb 10 at 3:20

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