From 2023, Euro NCAP will update their test protocols to include the Dooring scenario within their VRU assessments. ‘Dooring’ accidents occur when an occupant of a parked car opens their door into the path of an approaching cyclist. Vehicle manufacturers will be awarded a score based on whether a warning is given to a driver of an incoming cyclist, with additional points awarded if the vehicle doors are temporarily secured to prevent its opening.
Local markets are also prioritising the safety of vulnerable road users (VRU) including the recent introduction of a range of changes to the British Highway Code within the ‘Waiting and Parking’ chapter that specifically aim to protect vulnerable road users and prevent accidents such as Dooring.
Within the EU, vulnerable road users represent the largest sector of road user fatalities, accounting for 48% of all fatalities. Dooring undoubtedly represents a significant risk to cyclists, with a German study reporting that 6% of cyclists claim to have been involved in a Dooring accident and 45% of responders saying they had been subject to a near-miss. A UK campaign group estimates that Dooring injures around 500 cyclists in the UK every year.
These statistics reflect the need to improve awareness of the risk of Dooring and to introduce behavioural changes and vehicle safety systems to reduce the number of accidents.
UK law already states that it is an offence to open a car door or cause or permit it to be opened, so as to cause injury, and is punishable by a maximum fine of £1,000. However, under the changes to the Highway Code, the new section under rule 239 will now add “Where you are able to do so, you should open the door using your hand on the opposite side to the door you are opening; for example, use your left hand to open a door on your right-hand side.”
This is more commonly known as the ‘Dutch Reach’ method, as this principle has been used by drivers in the Netherlands for 50 years and is even part of their driving test. It is hoped that adopting this change in behaviour will make checking for cyclists habitual among UK drivers.
Vehicle manufacturers are introducing smart ‘exit assist’ features to warn the driver or even secure the doors when it senses a cyclist approaching from the rear. With Dooring accounting for around 7% of all VRU accidents, ‘exit assist’ is an important safety feature with the potential to make a significant impact on reducing accidents involving cyclists. The importance of ‘exit assist’ is reflected in the new Euro NCAP assessment, where the Dooring score will account for 11% of the overall VRU Bicyclist score from 2023.
When developing the new Dooring protocol, Euro NCAP Laboratories utilised one of RACELOGIC’s test solutions suitable for this type of assessment. In this instance, VRPS (VBOX Precision Ranging System) was used to provide dynamic, accurate separation distance and time to collision measurements between the car and the approaching cyclist. VPRS was combined with a Video VBOX to accurately synchronise the data with an HD 1080p video to capture a full visualisation of the test to aid analysis.
The solution used by Euro NCAP Laboratories, along with a range of alternatives that utilise other VBOX products, are in the final stages of release following further developments to make them a user-friendly, bespoke solution that meets the test parameters required by the new protocol. The full range will be available to order shortly in preparation for the 2023 Euro NCAP update.