The majority of states, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania, have laws designed to protect bicyclists from "dooring" accidents. Dooring accidents occur when a motorist opens a car door in the path of a moving bicycle, causing the rider to collide with the door unintentionally. In many cases, the bicyclist is left with injuries and the motorist is left wondering how the accident could have possibly happened.
In Pennsylvania, there is a law that prohibits anyone from opening a door to a motor vehicle unless it is "reasonably safe to do so". When a car door is opened and a bicyclist is hit, dooring laws put responsibility on the motorist, not the bicyclist, for the accident. This law provides incentive for motorists to use caution and look for oncoming traffic before opening their car door. Most importantly, dooring laws raise public awareness of the problem.& ;
Keep safe this summer
With summer approaching, bicyclists are becoming more common on the roads. With the increase in cycling traffic, drivers should pay particular attention to the danger they pose to pedestrians. While bicyclists also have traffic laws they must obey, dooring is a particular danger because there is little a bicyclist can do if a car door opens directly in front of them while they are moving in a bike lane.
Motorists can play a huge part in the prevention of dooring accidents. Before opening your car door, take the time to look in your side view mirrors to ensure that a bicyclist is not approaching your car. When stepping out of the vehicle, use caution and pay particular attention to the pedestrian traffic around you.
When possible, it is recommended that bicyclists stay four to five feet away from parked cars at all times. Bicyclists are also encouraged to look for signs that may indicate a car door may be opening in front of them, such as looking at taillights or being aware of recently parked cars. Using designated bike lanes can also decrease your risk of being involved in an accident.
If injury does occur, there are legal options available to assist in recovery. If you find yourself involved in a dooring accident this summer, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your next steps.