Bicyclists know the danger "dooring" - when the door of a parked car suddenly opens and blocks the path of a bicyclist who otherwise would be passing by - but not all drivers are aware of the hazard they may create when getting out of their cars. Therefore, to raise awareness of the issue and reduce the number of these bicycle accidents, Illinois is tracking dooring accidents as crashes on Illinois law enforcement crash forms for the first time.
Dooring can cause crashes that result in severe injury to bicyclists. When announcing the change, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said, "Anyone who rides a bike can tell you that dooring is a serious issue." Quinn also stated that, "One of the best ways we can increase public safety is by making sure we've got the best and most comprehensive data possible" on dooring accidents.
Previously, the Illinois Department of Transportation excluded dooring accidents from data collection because the motor vehicles involved in the accidents were not moving at the time of the collision, reported the Chicago Tribune. Now, however, dooring accident data will be included in the IDOT's annual traffic accident summaries.
Governor Quinn's office said the IDOT will launch a public outreach campaign to inform drivers of the need to look for bicyclists before opening their doors. With data on the number of dooring accidents, local and state governments will also be able to apply for federal safety grants to fund changes that will reduce the threat of dooring accidents.
Although it was not required by the state, Chicago has tracked bicycle dooring accidents for the past three years. And, according to the Chicago Tribune, drivers may be fined $500 for opening a vehicle door in the path of a bicyclist. With expanded tracking of dooring accidents across the state and greater awareness of the problem, hopefully the number of dooring crashes in Illinois will decrease.