One ever-present hazard for bicyclists is the possibility of being “doored”—hit by a suddenly-opened driver’s side door of a parked car.
A similar issue confounds carpool passengers: when exiting a full vehicle, the driver’s-side passenger must open the door directly into traffic (since they cannot exit on the curb side). This presents the obvious risk of being hit by a car that is swerving around the temporarily-parked carpool vehicle, as shown in Figure 1.
There may be a lot of blame to assign in the scenario in Figure 1 (“the passenger should have waited longer before opening the door” or “the red car shouldn’t have gone around the stopped car”), but it’s easy to see how it would occur without any egregious negligence.
In order to make it obvious that a car door may be opening soon (i.e., that there is an occupant associated with a door of a stopped or nearly-stopped car), the following is proposed:
- A row of lights are placed on the edges of the car, near the doors. These lights must be easily visible from behind the vehicle.
- When the door handle is operated, these edge lights flash (see Figure 2). This would provide ~1–2 additional seconds for a driver or bicyclist to react before hitting the door.
- Optionally, weight sensors in the car seats could detect whether or not someone is likely to exit via a specific door (if there are no passengers in the car, there is no reason for any of the lights to flash except for the ones on the driver’s door). Weight sensors are already used to decide whether or not to deploy passenger air bags, so this wouldn’t be a huge engineering challenge.
If you own an LED manufacturing plant, you should lobby your local government to make this feature mandatory, and try to avoid letting anyone do any scientific research to determine whether or not it’s actually effective.
PROS: Creates a new source of revenue for the LED light industry.
CONS: It is likely that there would be so many false positives—flashing lights for stopped cars at nearly every intersection, for example—that everyone would tune out these ubiquitous and uninformative warnings.