German ANWB warns of safety risk with recessed door handles

Can hinder emergency responders

Mercedes-Benz EQE door handle

More and more car manufacturers are using door handles that are recessed into the body and in some cases even retract electrically. ADAC – the German equivalent of the ANWB – warns of a safety risk that such door handles can entail.

You probably see more and more cars where the door handles are, in a sense, recessed into the doors. There are conventional mechanical models that are slightly deeper than you are used to, such as the BMW i4. In addition, there are also handles such as the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y, recessed door handles that you unfold manually by pressing the front part. However, there are also systems in which the handles present themselves after pressing a button or when approaching the car. Such door handles often automatically disappear from view. It is such electronically controlled units that the German ADAC is concerned about.

ADAC warns that the electrically extendable and retractable handles of cars such as the Tesla Model S and Mercedes-Benz EQE can complicate the work of emergency responders in the event of an accident. In some cases, emergency responders take longer to reach the occupants due to such door handles. Such door handles that retract electrically could remain retracted if the power supply fails, ADAC writes.

ADAC reports that safety institute Euro NCAP – of which ADAC is also a member – subjects such door handles to extensive safety tests. The way in which these types of doors can be opened manually from the outside would also be examined. No problems have yet been observed, but ADAC says that in practice accidents have occurred that have made the work of emergency workers more difficult due to such measures. In addition, the shape of these types of handles could also make it more difficult to open a tight and possibly deformed door by pulling firmly.

ADAC also advises owners of cars that you must electronically unlock from the inside by pressing a button before getting out. ADAC advises them to familiarize themselves with the emergency unlocking options that the car offers. A safety hammer can also provide a solution in an emergency, according to the German car club.

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