While negligent occupants of vehicles may say otherwise, the reality is that open door motorcycle accidents are caused by their errors that are completely preventable. Despite this, impatient and careless motorists continue to open their doors when parked along busy intersections without looking for motorcyclists legally driving nearby. The result can be catastrophic for the unsuspecting motorcycle riders when a vehicle door slams into them—sometimes ejecting them from their bikes right into ongoing traffic.
Driver Errors That Cause Open Door Accidents
Drivers are not the only vehicle occupants that can cause an open-door crash. Passengers also open their doors without thinking. Some reasons these crashes occur include:
- Illegally parking. When drivers illegally park, the occupants of the vehicle are often in more of a rush and even less attentive when they dart out of the vehicle. In addition, unsuspecting motorcyclists may not expect a vehicle in the no parking zones and have no time to swerve out of the way.
- Failing to check mirrors. The failure of occupants in passenger vehicles to check the rear and side mirrors before opening their doors is a frequent cause of these wrecks and constitutes negligence.
- Failing to be cautious in poor weather. Motorists often have a hard time seeing a smaller motorcycle. If they are not extra cautious when rain, snow, ice, and fog make visibility poor, they are even more likely to not see a motorcyclist in the path of their door.
- Using a cell phone. If an occupant of a vehicle immediately picks up his cell phone when the car engine stops, his mind and eyes will be on his phone—and not watching for a nearby motorcyclist.
- Not watching for motorcycle riders turning right. When motorcyclists turn right, they must ride closer to the right side of the road. Passenger vehicle occupants who fail to be attentive to this can cause the motorcycle to collide with their door.
- Not watching for road hazards. Road hazards such as debris, potholes, and trash can force a motorcyclist—and a driver of a car—to drive closer to the side of the road and right into an opening door.
Serious Injuries Caused by Open Doors
Motorcycle riders can suffer devastating injuries in open door accidents because they are often flung off their bikes onto the hard pavement—and sometimes into oncoming traffic. In addition, the motorcyclist is often going at a faster speed as they have no advance warning of the need to slow down. Common injuries riders could suffer include:
- Traumatic brain injuries, skull injuries, and other head and brain injuries
- Neck injuries
- Back injuries
- Spinal injuries—including partial or complete paralysis
- Lacerations, cuts, and bruises
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Severe nerve damage that can cause permanent chronic pain
- Internal bleeding
Tips for Avoiding Open Door Tragedies
While the main responsibility for preventing open door accidents lies with the occupants opening their doors, motorcycle riders can take preventative steps as well. Ways to avoid being the victim of one of these wrecks include:
- Watch for illegally parked vehicles that could block visibility at parking lot entrances, on road shoulders, and of the occupants of legally parked vehicles.
- Try not to veer too close to the side of the road when making a right turn around vehicles parked along the street.
- When driving near passenger vehicles along the street, be aware of occupants who could be entering or exiting their vehicles.
- If you must drive when visibility is poor, be extra attentive for passenger vehicle occupants who may not see you.
- When you see someone opening their automobile door, begin slowing down.