Opening a Car Door

Question

Katia asked: In the morning, in front of her high school, my daughter open the door’s car and a friend hit it with a his bike. We asked him if he was ok, and he said “yes, but you need to be not careful when open the door next time.” Two hours after my daughter text to me letting me know that the boy says that he will to make a police report. It’s that possible? Can we be in justice problems?

Answer

The applicable law is this:

s. 316.2005Opening and Closing Vehicle Doors

No person shall open any door on a motor vehicle unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers. A violation of this section is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a nonmoving violation as provided in chapter 318.

Notice that the statute does not specify any location.

The sidewalk is part of the highway and pedestrians are traffic.

s. 316.003 – Definitions

(86) Traffic – Pedestrians, ridden or herded animals, and vehicles, streetcars, and other conveyances singly or together while using any street or highway for purposes of travel.

(77) Street or Highway

(a) The entire width between the boundary lines of every way or place of whatever nature when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular traffic ….

The police will decide if they will investigate the incident.

Posted in Ask Geo, Misc
2 comments on “Opening a Car Door
  1. Phil Leinbach says:

    A friend opened a car door on a bicycle and the rider lost a tooth. The litigation went on for years, they finally settled for $25,000. A good practice is to open a drivers door with your right hand, this way the door only opens a few inches so you can look back to check for pedestrians and bikes before opening it all the way. There’s a country in Europe that does it this way and it seems to work.

    • Using the right hand to open a driver-side door is an excellent habit to develop, because in reaching for the handle one swivels to the left, toward the street, and is likely to remember to check for any overtaking traffic. Unfortunately there is no program or system in place to teach the method to drivers here (in the Netherlands, it’s part of the driver exam).

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