D as You may have read or heard the keyword “dooring” in the news this year. This is what accident researchers call the accidents in which a cyclist is hit by an opening car door of a parked car. Why is that such a topic now? Because the number of fatally injured cyclists in 2018 was 63, the highest it has been since 2009. Of the several thousand dooring accidents per year, only a few come off lightly.
Suggestion No. 1: The Dutch handle
With a very simple handle, dooring accidents can be reliably avoided: If you are the driver, reach for the door handle with your right hand. In the Netherlands, children in the rear are already learning to open the car door with the hand that is further away. The upper body rotates automatically and you look over your shoulder and check whether the air is clean - that is, whether no cyclist, no e-scooter driver, but also no motorcycle or car is approaching.
Suggestion no. 2: use and develop existing technology
Blind Spot Assistant: Many modern cars have the Blind Spot Assistant on board. However, it has not yet been used to prevent dooring accidents. But he could. What speaks against setting the sensors so that it detects an approaching cyclist or e-scooter driver and warns the driver who is about to get out? It is even conceivable that if there is imminent danger, it creates resistance when opening the door.
New technology from Ford, Mercedes and Seat: And this is exactly where Ford 2020 comes in. The manufacturer is currently developing an exit warning function. The sensors of the blind spot assistant are supposed to detect a possible collision and then warn by acoustic and visual signals. Visually through red LED lights on the exterior mirror and through a red LED light strip along the inside door panel, which is also visible to approaching road users when the door is opened. “The engineers are also testing a new mechanism for the car door that temporarily prevents it from opening fully until the exit warning function determines that the passing road user has safely moved away from the vehicle. This function can be overridden manually in an emergency. ”, Says Ford.
With the facelift of the E-Class 2020, Mercedes is also bringing a blind spot assistant with exit warning. The system gives a visual warning in the exterior mirror if a bicycle or other vehicle drives past in the critical area. It recognizes road users who are moving at more than 7 km /h. “If the occupant presses the door handle at this point, an acoustic warning sounds and the ambient lighting in the door starts to flash red. (...) The function is available when the vehicle is stationary and up to three minutes after the ignition has been switched off. ', So the information from Mercedes.
The new Seat Leon is also equipped with an' exit assistant ' . If a door is opened while the vehicle is parked and a collision between the door and the cyclist /pedestrian /other road user could occur, an acoustic warning follows also the question of whether it makes sense for electric exterior mirrors to fold in while the driver is still in the car. This means that it lacks an important option for scanning the approaching traffic. Car manufacturers can approach this very pragmatically by not even offering this option and only being able to fold in the exterior mirrors when the occupants have left the parked car.
Signal for other road users: Of course, a signal that warns bicycle and e-scooter drivers as soon as a car occupant opens the door would also be helpful. The inventor and taxi driver Zülfikar Celik has thought about this and developed a concept with which every car could be upgraded: his patent provides that existing lights on the vehicle (brake light, tail light or turn signal) are automatically activated on the respective side as soon as they are a car door is opened. A small programming of the on-board electronics would be sufficient for this. Depending on the distance it couldthe cyclist does not necessarily always brake in time, but the chances of a successful evasive maneuver would definitely be higher. Mainly because the lights on the parked car would also warn other approaching road users: 'Warning, someone is still sitting in the car.' Why this very simple and inexpensive approach is not popular in the industry cannot really be explained - before mainly because there seems to be a lack of other, innovative solutions. Despite the terrifying bicycle accident statistics from 2018, no proposals on this topic were presented at the IAA in 2019 either.
Proposal No. 3: separate traffic light phases
turning accidents - especially with trucks - cyclists and e-scooter drivers can quickly cost their lives. Not only can the classic look over the shoulder and modern assistance systems in vehicles help, but also separate traffic light phases. Yes, that would take a lot of getting used to - especially for drivers. If in doubt, however, about safety, then a rethink may be necessary.
Suggestion no. 4: high board cycle path instead of cycle lanes
There is no one optimal cycle path (yet). That is why it is all the more important here to be prepared as well as possible to the possibilities on site when planning. Especially in cities, cycle lanes are often created on the existing lane and sometimes painted in bright colors. Most of them are only demarcated by a dashed line, some lead directly along parked cars. This harbors three potential dangers: the cycle path visually signals safety and delimitation, but motorists are also allowed to use it because of the dashed line. In addition, there is a high risk of dooring accidents, which usually means serious injuries or even death for the cyclist.
Extra cycle paths that are separated from the road and the pedestrian path offer the greatest safety. But there is often no room for that. Which is why a high-side cycle path is always preferable when planning cycle paths with fairly wide pedestrian paths. Cyclists also drive past parked cars to the right, which of course minimizes the risk of dooring accidents.