Vehicles in motion are a constant safety concern for those biking in the Greater Los Angeles area. Drivers may turn directly in front of cyclists or strike them while driving through an intersection because they fail to properly monitor their surroundings. Cyclists are often very careful both to observe their surroundings continually and to make themselves as visible as possible to others in traffic. Despite their best efforts, those in motor vehicles may fail to notice them and cause dangerous car-bicycle collisions.
Vehicles do not become less of a risk once they come to a complete stop. They then pose a completely different threat to nearby cyclists. Dooring incidents occur when a vehicle occupant opens a car door suddenly, cutting off a cyclist approaching on the street. Frequently, dooring incidents are fatal. What makes them so potentially devastating for the cyclist involved?
A doored cyclist is at risk of a second crash
The immediate physical trauma caused by a dooring incident can be enough to put someone in the hospital or kill them. When someone strikes part of a vehicle while traveling at high speeds, they could suffer broken bones, brain injuries and other potentially debilitating injuries.
However, the biggest risk relates to their momentum. They might strike the door hard enough for their momentum to force them over or around the door and out into traffic. Unfortunately, dooring incidents often lead to secondary collisions. Other vehicles approaching the area in traffic do not have time to respond when a cyclist suddenly flies into the street.
Secondary collisions can be even more dangerous than the initial dooring incident. The drivers of those other vehicles may not have any opportunity to avoid the cyclist because of how quickly they end up in traffic. Many fatal dooring incidents involve secondary collisions after someone thoughtlessly opens a car door in front of a cyclist.
In many cases, the person who opened their door into traffic is the one at fault for the initial dooring incident and any secondary collisions that occur because of it. Injured cyclists and grieving families may need to consider litigation because liability insurance may not provide enough compensation.
Understanding what makes certain types of cycling incidents so dangerous may help motivate people to demand accountability after a preventable tragedy. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to get started.