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For many people, car safety refers to the measures that automakers build into a vehicle to keep the occupants of the vehicle safe. However, cars are massive machines that can go at high speeds, making them dangerous to everyone outside of a car. As a result, it’s also necessary for cars to become safer for cyclists. Luckily, there is one car safety feature that could do just that.

A lot of cyclists are injured or killed by opening car doors

We Love Cycling wrote about what “dooring” is, and like the name suggests, it’s when a person in a car opens their door, and that door smacks into a cyclist riding nearby. This is dangerous for cyclists as they often travel at a good amount of speed, and suddenly crashing into a door can cause serious injuries. Not to mention, it can also do some damage to the car, the car door, and anyone trying to exit the vehicle.

The statistics on dooring are harrowing. In Chicago, Illinois, 344 injuries were caused by dooring in 2011 alone. That represented nearly 20% of all the injuries that cyclists suffer. On top of that, dooring can be a fatal accident. It’s not highly likely, but it can still happen. For instance, in New York City, between 1996 to 2005, seven deaths were attributed to dooring. 

There is a smart safety feature that could reduce the risk of dooring

Like with many other types of accidents, dooring is preventable. After all, it only happens when cyclists are next to cars, so keeping cyclists away from cars solves the problem entirely. If that’s not possible, there are still ways to prevent dooring with technology. According to Drive, a door exit cyclist detection system is a smart safety feature that uses an array of sensors to detect cyclists and react accordingly.

These types of sensors used to be rare and expensive, but many cars now have pedestrian and cyclist detection systems. Such systems aren’t unlike a door exit cyclist detection system. The main difference is that, with a door exit cyclist detection system, the computer will warn drivers that a cyclist is coming once it detects an incoming cyclist. Some systems will even slow down the process of opening the doors.

Since the technology for this safety feature is already there, it’s a good idea for safety agencies like the NHTSA or the IIHS to begin testing for these features and ranking cars accordingly. Australia’s safety agency does this already. This won’t require automakers to add the feature, but it would encourage them to. For example, the IIHS tests for headlights, which has encouraged some automakers to update their headlights to get better safety ratings.

Some automakers already have this feature in certain cars

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This type of safety feature is already available in a handful of cars. Automakers have given it their own unique name, but they all use the same tech to achieve the same goals. Hyundai has the safety feature on a couple of models, including the latest versions of the Santa Fe. The South Korean auto giant calls it Safe Exit Assist, the same name Lexus has for the system. In Lexus’ case, one of the models that can come with the feature is the NX.

Ford has developed a similar system, but the American automaker simply calls it Exit Warning. However, unlike with Hyundai and Lexus, Ford doesn’t appear to have installed the system on any of its current models.