By John D. SutterThe Washington Times | May 3, 2020 09:07:26The interior doors of most vehicles in the United States are designed to be bolted in place, but a handful of manufacturers are pushing forward with the idea of using magnets to create a more “flatsplash” effect.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, some of the most common types of vehicle door hinges include a flat or round-section door hinge and a flat- or round panel door hinge.
Manufacturers use the term “flattensplash,” a slang term for the “floating effect,” to describe how these hinge systems look when they are open.
Some companies say the new hinge systems are more stable than those that rely on magnets, which tend to sag and crack.
The new technology could potentially help reduce vehicle deaths and injuries and save lives, the industry says.
However, some experts say it could also create more problems, because it could result in door hinges that are no longer stable.
A 2014 study from the National Safety Council’s Automotive Safety Research Center found that of the 26 million crashes involving vehicle occupants, only 2 percent involved door hinges.
That means there are only about 1.2 million crashes where the crash victim was killed because of the door hinge system, the study found.
“We are looking at about 5,000 deaths in the U.S. every year with no safety net in place,” said Tom Wysocki, the director of the center.
More:In a survey of auto industry executives, only about a third said they believed that door hinges could be safely used in the future.
While the industry has said that it will keep working on developing safer hinges, some people are concerned that the new technology will create more safety hazards than it fixes.
If the technology is to be used in cars, there is the possibility that the doors could break in a crash, leaving passengers in a position that could lead to a fatal injury, said Dan Oates, a spokesman for the National Automobile Dealers Association.
In a letter to the industry, he added that the safety of the new hinges “is not an absolute certainty.”
“The industry has been working on safer hinges for a long time, but there is no certainty that this will be a major part of the industry in the next decade,” he wrote.
We will continue to work with you on a safe and secure technology, he said.