Car Door Warning Color

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Introduction: Car Door Warning Color

This is a simple 'Ible about using color to increase automobile safety.

Where I live, traffic is dense. We have a plethora of motorized vehicles in a relatively small area, from big trucks on down to scooters. We have a lot of narrow streets and alleys too. Also, here in Taiwan we enjoy a high percentage of motorcycle and scooter ownership. It used to be highest in the world, and may still be. Scooters and motorcycles are often streaming past cars, whether those cars are parked, standing, or under way. It is dangerous when a car door opens and oncoming traffic, either two- or four-wheeled, does not have enough warning.

I am particularly sensitive to this problem since a slight incident that happened a few years back. It was about 8:30 one rainy morning. I was riding my motorcycle on the way to work, and approaching a red light. Everything was a bit blurry because of the rain on my visor. Legally and in accord with local practice, I was passing to the right of the waiting cars when the right back door of one opened suddenly! The front of my cycle hit it and glanced off at an angle, but I didn't go down. A schoolgirl got out and seemed quite concerned that the car door had sustained no damage. That was annoying. What about me? Someone in the car was scolding her. But I didn't say anything and neither did she. Car door was okay, motorcycle was okay, she shut the door and walked, the light changed, and we all went our separate ways.

I've had two or three cars since then, and now I like to paint the door edges a bright, contrasting color so it is obvious to approaching traffic when a door is opening. As it happened, I painted another set of doors yesterday, and took some photos.

Step 1: What You Need

1 can orange spray enamel or lacquer
1 can white spray enamel or lacquer
1 roll masking tape
1 non-orange car
(Optional) some newspapers, if you need to do more extensive masking

Step 2: Paint

Clean the surfaces. Remove any dirt, dust, or oil from the edges of the doors.

Tape off the gaskets, the latches, any screw heads, whatever else.

For a newer car, I would mask off both the outside of the door AND the inner panels to avoid overspray. This was not a newer car, so I didn't bother.

Spray on white paint as undercoat. The white helps the orange to cover and show up brightly. If you spray on orange without the white undercoat, it either looks dull, or it takes a LOT of orange. 

Don't close doors. Let the white dry.

Spray orange over the white.

Don't close doors. Let the orange dry.

Pull off masking material.

Done. Doors may be closed now, and vehicle is safer.

Seems to me that putting bright paint, or perhaps reflective decals, on door edges would be an inexpensive way for car manufacturers to increase the safety of their products, in case they were so inclined. I recall seeing some car doors with safety lights on the edge, and that's an excellent idea. Especially good at night.

If this little paint job averts one mishap, it has paid off. More than.

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67 Comments

Use clear reflective paint on the color. The difference at night is unbelievable.

volvo-lifepaint-reflective-safety-spray.jpg

Very dramatic photos. Looks like everything got painted, including spokes, trousers, shirt, helmet!

Clever trick, nice!

Like the idea, but what about at night?

The bright paint probably provides some slight increased visibility at night. But of course door-mounted lights are better.

good idea but not perfect doing.

See the bright side!

It's a wonder that auto mfgr's haven't thought of this.

Yeah. One would think it wouldn't cost them a whole lot, and it would save some lives, and reduce injuries and damage. Maybe Volvo could start. They promote the safety angle. At least they used to.

[Okay. I just sent a message to Volvo, and got this response:
"Thank you for your feedback. Volvo Cars value your opinions!
Your Feedback has been routed to the appropriate party at our division."
I had to submit the suggestion (with link to Instructable) to the Volvo Sustainability division. Not ideal maybe, but best fit I could find that didn't require a chassis number. So can we expect to see a lot of orange-edged car doors starting next year?]