D.O.E. means "doors opening en route" in transit talk, an acronym that looks an awful lot like D.O.A. While there's no official phobia out there for those who fear being sucked out of a moving train when the doors malfunction and open, the fear is real. Our own Ben Yakas tells us:

"This is a subway fantasy of mine... I very rarely sit on subways, so I frequently lean against the door (but of course, dive out of the way whenever it opens/closes). I imagine the doors opening mid-transit, and being sucked out into the narrow crevice between the train and the tunnel; sometimes I'm able to grab onto the edge of the train and I dangle outside like Bruce Willis in Die Hard With A Vengeance; sometimes someone grabs my arm and the entire train bandies together to pull me in; sometimes I just fall off into the abyss and picture my limbs contorting into a pretzel. Other times I imagine I'd be the one saving someone from such a fate."

Ben's troubling imagination aside, this is a concern. Do you trust the doors on the rickety old C train? And yet, people lean anyway—6 out of 10 Gothamist staffers who were polled for this admitted to leaning. Though it's equally important to point out that 100% of door leaners at Gothamist have never been injured by doing so.

So, how often do door leaners get injured? MTA spokesperson Adam Lisberg told us, "We can’t find any indication anyone has been injured because of an opening door for at least a decade; can’t find when it may have last happened."

These signs were put up for a reason, however. In 1986, the NY Times reported on the new "Do not lean against the door" signs going up on subway doors, "replacing the familiar and milder injunction to 'keep hands off' the doors." At the time, Transit Authority's Robert E. Slovak noted that "the reason the new ones are going up, obviously, is because of the problems we've encountered with D.O.E.'s." The first half of 1986 saw 42 D.O.E. incidents, while the train was moving, which had been a significant increase from the previous year. No injuries had been reported, however.

In addition to putting up the signs, they were also trying to "eliminate mechanical difficulties" after noticing malfunctions spreading across their entire fleet.

Then, in 1997, the NY Times reported on a new "rash of incidents over the last 16 months in which conductors opened train doors on the wrong side, or when the train was still partly in the tunnel, posing a potential risk to passengers." There were 62 incidents in the first half of the year, which were less of a mechanical issue, and more human error.

(Photo by Dave H.)

"Authority officials said they thought the problem had been eased this year by a crackdown on rules developed to insure that conductors followed proper procedures and checked that the train was in the right spot before opening the doors.

While acknowledging that conductors were often at fault, officials at Local 100 of the Transit Workers Union, which represents the conductors, blame the problem on staff cutbacks and mandatory overtime over the last two years... as well as on training shortcuts."

This led to the rule that called for "conductors to lean out of the window and point at the board after the train comes to a halt. The rule is meant to insure that they are awake and alert."

Now we not only have the point, but Lisberg tells us, "Our subway cars are far more reliable than in the 1970s and 1980s, and they have electronic interlocks to make it harder for them to open unintentionally. Still, it remains good advice not to lean against the doors, even though it isn’t a hazard we’ve heard from lately."