Tips for Preventing Bicycle Dooring Accidents
Dooring occurs when the driver or a passenger on the street-facing side of a car opens their door and obstructs the path of an oncoming cyclist. Even if the cyclist isn’t traveling fast, dooring can cause an accident that results in serious or even catastrophic injuries.
Estimates for the total number of bicycle accidents caused by dooring range from about one out of fourteen accidents to about one out of five, according to studies conducted in Boston and Chicago. There are steps that cyclists, drivers, and passengers can all take to help eliminate these dangerous collisions.
What Drivers and Passenger Can Do
When the driver or the passenger opens a road-facing door at the wrong moment, an approaching cyclist simply won’t have enough time to react. But there are ways that drivers and passengers can prevent this from happening:
- Drivers can use their mirrors and look behind them before opening the door.
- Road-facing passengers can exit on the other side, which is always safer, especially for children.
- Drivers and passengers can use their right hand to open the door. The so-called Dutch Reach forces you to look back and it also limits how far you can initially open the door.
- Look behind you, get out, and then close the door quickly.
What Cyclists Can Do
Cyclists face a difficult dilemma when it comes to avoiding dooring accidents. They can move farther into the lane, but that makes the cyclist more vulnerable to being struck by a moving vehicle that veers into their space.
Recommended precautions for bicycle riders wishing to avoid dooring accidents include:
- Travel outside the door zone, which means staying 4 feet away from parked vehicles.
- Travel along the outer edge of bike lane.
- Look out for drivers in parked cars.
- Always look ahead of you.
- Slow down when passing parked cars.
- Always be cautious when passing a parked car, even when you’re in the bike lane.
What to do After a Dooring Accident
Call 911 right away after a dooring accident. Even if you feel ok, you may have head injuries or internal organ damage that can get worse and requires immediate medical attention.
Ask the driver to remain until the first responders arrive. You can also ask to see their driver’s license and snap a photo of it and their license plate using your cell phone camera.
If there are any witnesses, you can ask for their contact information. This will help your bicycle accident lawyer when they investigate the accident.
Who Is Liable in a Dooring Accident?
Drivers and passengers who fail to look before opening a traffic-facing door are being careless. People have a responsibility to act reasonably and look out for the safety of others. And if it’s determined that the person who opened the door did not meet the standard of care, they can be held liable for injuries caused in a dooring accident.
Your bicycle accident attorney will investigate the accident to determine whose careless behavior caused your injuries. Then they will file a claim against the negligent person’s insurance company.
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