Every designer in the automotive industry seeks to increase safety in the next generation of vehicles to create a safer fleet of cars on the road as well as to increase safety of those not in vehicles. Some companies have started adding features like external airbags and force-absorbing hoods to decrease the impact experienced in the unfortunate situations where a pedestrian is struck by a car. Others are adding blind spot sensors to make motorists more aware when difficult to see traffic is on their side, like a motorcycle or a bicycle.
The proliferation of sliding doors, primarily on minivans, have increased safety in their own right. Though many of these doors are designed to allow children easy access into and out of a car without opening a car door into another vehicle, they serve the additional purpose of preventing anyone from opening the door into traffic, primarily when a vehicle parks along a street. Opening a car door into traffic can be a hazard for any other driver on the road but for a bicyclist, the incident can turn tragic or even fatal.
Every year, dozens of bicyclists in Chicago are hurt in incidents known as dooring accidents, which occur when a car door is opened into the path of travel of a cyclist, causing the biker to strike the car’s door. Injury lawyers who help victims of these accidents understand that the injuries caused can range from bumps and bruises to fractures or broken bones or even to death in the worst cases. Sliding doors greatly reduce the odds of a dooring incident occurring but do not completely eliminate it as an open sliding door slightly protrudes from the closed position.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, automobile engineers with several companies took door safety one step further and created a drop down, vertical storing door. The earliest use of this technology was by BMW in their Z1 models manufactured between 19989 and 1991 and sold in Europe. The Z1’s door retracts vertically into the base of the vehicle, storing itself while leaving the driver free to enter or exit the vehicle without the constraints of a hinged door partially blocking the opening. The same disappearing door concept was also used in a 1993 Lincoln Mark VIII but was modified to fit the sedan style of the car. In one simultaneous motion, the driver’s side door or the passenger door open and store in the base of the car. An additional power source ran the door’s movements in the Mark VIII concept car which has become an internet sensation over the past few years with a main Youtube video receiving over 14 million views.
The technology exists to put drop doors into production but so far, this concept has not gained widespread commercial success. Yet in addition to the convenience posed by this design, the benefit to safety should also be considered.
As disappearing drop side doors do not swing into traffic, they would eliminate dooring accidents with bicyclists in Chicago and across the nation. Each dooring accident has the potential to cost a community millions of dollars when all factors, including medical expenses, lost earning power, and potential loss of life are considered. This would translate into fewer high-cost accidents and safer streets for motorists and bicyclists alike.
Until the day that drop side disappearing doors become commonplace, though, dooring accidents are likely to continue to plague the path of cyclists in Chicago. If you have been injured in a bicycling accident, call the lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. today at (855) 529-2442 or (312) 924-7575 and let us provide you with a free case consultation. There is no obligation on your part for receiving the consultation and we have a lawyer standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take your call. Do not let yourself continue to be a victim; call us today and let us help you get the relief you deserve.
Prior Blog Entry:
Driver Charged with DUI After Hitting, Killing Bicyclist in Chicago, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published December 10, 2013.