Ford has been working on a sensor-based "Exit warning function“Which aims to prevent so-called dooring accidents. The system is supposed to warn acoustically and visually if a potential collision is imminent when opening the vehicle door. The exit warning function for cars informs both the vehicle occupants and the road users affected outside. If the sensors of the blind spot assistant detects a danger if the car door is opened, the system issues a visual and also an acoustic warning. The system automatically detects approaching road users on the driver and passenger side and can analyze the situation in a fraction of a second. While the vehicle driver is warned by means of acoustics in the vehicle, a conspicuously flashing exterior mirror indicates a possible danger to the person outside the car. In addition, a red LED light strip along the inside door panel provides information about the open vehicle door. A mechanism is also planned that will prevent the car door from opening completely in the event of a collision, or at least make it much more difficult. But the idea is not that new. Audi and Mercedes are already using them and Audi even uses the mechanism to make it difficult to open the door.
The system in the Audi
It gives a tactile warning of an impending danger. A mechanism is delayed with the help of electronic door locking system opening the door quickly for just under a second (approx. 800 milliseconds). A steady light on the outside mirror of the vehicle lights up. The blocking alerts the driver or front passenger to the impending danger. In the event of a complete power failure, the door can still be opened if the lever is pulled completely. By the way, the next use resets the system. But there is also the danger that the door will still be opened after a second. Then the cyclist would be even closer to the vehicle and the situation would be even more critical than before. So at least an additional warning should be given by light and sound. Unfortunately this is not the case.
The system in the Mercedes
If the sensor detects an approaching vehicle, an LED lights up in the rear view mirror. If you then open the door, the LED flashes and an acoustic beep sounds. Mercedes only warns of another car, a bicycle or a motorcycle when the road user can no longer stop. Just in time that you can close the door again. The system is not activated before the engine starts, which we see as a major shortcoming. Continuous operation should be possible here, which is activated or deactivated by unlocking and locking the vehicle.
Retrofit exit warning function?
There are indeed Blind-spot warning systems for retrofitting also from third-party providers, in combination with a so-called exit warning function, however, no system for retrofitting is known to date. So there is only the option for Mercedes or Audi drivers to inquire about retrofitting with the OEM components from the optional driver assistance package, and for drivers of Ford vehicles to wait for the manufacturer to get his system into series production soon.
Dutch handle as an alternative
But there is one Free and extremely simple alternative. This is called the "Dutch grip" and is a trick that never lets you forget your shoulder look. In the driving school we all learned how it works: 1 park the car, 2 loosen the seat belt, 3 look over the shoulder, 4 get out. Unfortunately, practice is not a theory. With the “Dutch handle”, however, precisely this process is virtually automated. It works in such a way that, as a left-hand drive driver, you open the car door with your right hand and the passenger uses the left. For right-hand drive cars it is the other way around. This small gesture leads to the fact that the upper body is automatically turned to the left and can thus see incoming dangers. The method is not compulsory in the Netherlands, but is taught in driving schools. In England, the Dutch handle is integrated into the highway code as a recommendation and even the Australian state of South Australia and the US state of Massachusetts have been recommending the method since 2017.
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