If you are a cyclist or a motorcyclist, you will likely be familiar with the term “dooring.” You may not recognize the term as a driver.
Car or truck drivers are unlikely to be injured by dooring, but cyclist and motorcyclists know this practice is potentially-deadly,
In July, 2016 Virginia passed a dooring law. It requires drivers to wait for a “reasonable opportunity” to open their door on the side facing moving traffic. A violation of the law leads to a $50 fine.
Dooring takes place when a driver or a passenger opens their car or truck door into a lane of moving traffic and a bicyclist or motorcyclist runs into the door. This is a common cause of injuries to cyclists. Motorcyclists may be riding further out into the road, but if they are hit by a car door, their injuries are likely to be even more serious than those to cyclist. Injuries are not only caused by the door. A cyclist may swerve to avoid a door and be hit by another vehicle. A motorcyclist may crash avoiding the obstacle.
Most U.S. states now have a dooring law. They include Virginia and Washington DC. North Carolina does not have a dooring law.
As a car driver, there are some things you can do to avoid falling foul of the dooring law. Drivers should:
Check behind their car before opening the door;
Check side mirrors because a bicyclist may be in your blind spot;
Open your door slowly when you are getting out of your car;
Remind passengers to check for bicyclists, motorcycle riders, and other cars before getting out of their cars.
Park off the street where possible in parking lots.
How Common Are Dooring Accidents
Dooring collisions are one of the most common types of cycling accident in urban areas. Data from the City of Chicago from 2010-2012 found dooring crashes made up between 7.3 and 19.7 percent of reported bicycle crashes.
The Boston Cyclist Safety Report of 2013 suggested dooring crashes made up between 7 and 13 percent of all bicycle collisions in the City of Boston between 2009 and 2012. A study in Australia found vehicle doors accounted for 17.6 percent of crashes involving bicyclists and drivers.
Cyclists can also help avoid dooring accidents. Aim to keep 3 to 5 feet between your bike or motorcycle and parked cars. Cyclists and bikers can drive defensively by looking at the traffic ahead and anticipating motorists getting out of cars. If you see a car has just stopped, chances are a door will be opening momentarily.
Find out more about accidents involving bicyclists here on our website. Please call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers if you are hurt in a dooring accident at (757) 455-0077.