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Distracted parking puts cyclists at risk of dooring injuries

By now, every driver in California should recognize the risks of distracted driving. While it is always a good idea to put down the smartphone and focus on driving, motorists must also exercise caution when parking. If they fail to do so, cyclists may be in grave danger.

The number of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities increased by roughly 50% between 2009 and 2018, with roughly 60% of cyclist fatalities occurring outside of intersections. Dooring, where a driver opens his or her door into a cyclist, is one type of non-intersection accident.

How does distracted parking contribute to dooring?

When drivers park, they may gather belongings, respond to text messages or converse with passengers before opening their doors. If motorists do not remember to check their rear-view and side mirrors, they may inadvertently open their doors into passing riders. Consequently, to keep cyclists safe, all drivers should check at least twice before beginning to exit their vehicles. They should also open doors slowly.

Why is dooring dangerous?

Even if cyclists comply with posted speed limits, they may be traveling at high rates of speed. While a car’s door has hinges that give it some flexibility, colliding with a vehicle door forces a cyclist to come to an abrupt stop. The rider may even topple over the top of the door, sustaining additional injuries when he or she hits the pavement, another vehicle or something else.

What options do injured cyclists have?

All motorists have a duty to drive and park reasonably. If a distracted driver breaches this duty and causes a cyclist to suffer a catastrophic injury, the cyclist may have a valid personal injury claim. That is, the responsible driver may have to pay the rider’s medical bills and other damages.

Ultimately, because there are tight timeframes for filing legal causes of action, injured cyclists often must act quickly to pursue the financial compensation they deserve for dooring and other distracted parking accidents.

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