Monday, March 21, 2011

IDOT Fails to Track Doorings

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is failing to track "dooring" collisions where a motorist opens their door into the path of a bicyclist. IDOT's rationale for not tracking "doorings" is that, by definition, the motor vehicle is stopped at the time of the collision. This rationale is completely illogical as part of the motor vehicle, the door, is moving and it is operated by the driver of the motor vehicle.

The City of Chicago, however, does track "doorings" that were reported to the police and turns over that information to IDOT. However, IDOT still does not track the data related to "doorings" and incorporate it into statewide vehicle-bicycle crash counts. The fundamental problem with this failure is that there are therefore no accurate statistics related to the frequency or extent of "doorings" in Chicago.

According to data in the article, Chicago police received reports of 76 "doorings" in 2010 and 62 in 2009. Seventy-six dooring crashes were reported to Chicago police last year and 62 in 2009. But the data from "doorings" are not incorporated into statewide vehicle-bicycle crash counts. Therefore, IDOT's statistics that between 2005 through 2009 there was an average of more than 3,500 motor vehicle vs. bicycle collisions that resulted in 18 to 27 deaths and 3,300 annual injuries are incomplete and inaccurate.

Further complicating problems for bicyclists is the fact that Chicago police rarely issue tickets to the motorists responsible for the "dooring." Since 2008 Chicago police have not issued any tickets for "doorings." This is ironic because in 2008 the City of Chicago amended its Municipal Code to specifically address "doorings" and other dangerous actions by motorists that affect bicyclists. Section 9-80-035 provides the following:
No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic 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. Added Coun. J. 3-12-08, p. 22781, § 2

Illinois Bicycle Lawyer Mike Keating has handled numerous cases involving "doorings." While IDOT and the Chicago Police Department may not fully enforce the laws, the laws are there for your protection and can be used in a civil action against the driver who "doors" a motorist and their insurance company. Just because the police do not issue a traffic citation does NOT mean that the motorist or their insurance company can "get off the hook" for injuries that they caused a bicyclist when they broke the law and opened their door into the path of a bicyclist. The law is the law and it is my job to enforce it when the police or IDOT fail to do so.

If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Illinois personal injury law, please contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at 312-208-7702 or . All initial consultations are confidential and free.