Riding a bicycle comes with its fair share of dangers. With May being Bicycle Safety Month, our goal is to bring awareness to some of the incessant hazards that cyclists face and what everyone – cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians – can do to minimize the number of deaths and injuries we see occur each year.
What is Dooring?
Dooring occurs when a cyclist is riding alongside a line of cars and hits a car door that was left ajar or opened suddenly. When cyclists encounter this, they can either hit the car door or attempt to avoid the door, swerving into other potential hazards such as moving traffic. Dooring is the third most common type of accident to occur when riding a bicycle, accounting for roughly 20% of all bicycle accidents. These accidents can cause serious injury to several parties, including the cyclist, the owner of the car, and others in the surrounding area.
What Does the Law Say About Dooring?
There is a law set in place on how vehicle doors are to be opened. In Rhode Island, Universal Citation RI Gen L § 31-21-14 (2012) states:
“No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the roadways, streets, or highways of this state, available to moving traffic, unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, including pedestrians and bicycles on sidewalks, shoulders, or bicycle lanes. No person shall leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic, including pedestrians and bicycles on sidewalks, shoulders or bicycle lanes, for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.”
Anyone found violating this law is subject to the $85 fine as stated in § 31-41.1-4. If the cyclist was injured in a dooring accident due to the negligence of another, then they may be entitled to compensation.
How to Prevent Dooring
In the same way that several parties could potentially be injured due to car dooring, several parties can play a part in preventing this type of accident.
- Be extra cautious when riding in an urban setting.
- If possible, stay away from parked cars.
- Keep an eye out for cars that appear to be occupied.
- Make eye contact with the other people on the road and inside of parked cars.
- Increase visibility by wearing the appropriate clothing, using reflectors, and turning on lights.
Those in parked cars
- Open the car door using the Dutch Reach. The Dutch Reach advises those exiting a vehicle to open the door with their far hand. So if you are exiting from the left side of the vehicle, use your right hand to open the door and vice versa. This makes it so that the body turns and makes it easy to look behind you, seeing potential hazards before opening the car door.
- Be extra cautious when driving near cyclists in urban settings.
- If possible, give cyclists extra space when passing them.
- Share the road with cyclists.
No matter how careful people are, accidents will still happen. If you or someone you know has been in a bicycle accident due to another person’s negligence, contact the team of personal injury attorneys at Rob Levine & Associates today. We can help you get the justice you deserve.