The Law for Pedestrian Open Car Doors: Understanding Your Responsibilities as a Driver

July 17, 2022 - 3:30 pm - 4 min read

Car accidents can happen in an instant and in many different forms. One of the most common but often overlooked accidents on the road involves pedestrian open car doors. When a driver fails to take proper care while opening their car door, they can hit an incoming pedestrian. The impact of such an accident can cause serious injuries to the pedestrian, including head injuries, broken bones, and bruises. If you’re a driver or a pedestrian, it’s essential to understand the laws and regulations for pedestrian open car doors to avoid accidents and injuries.

What are Pedestrian Open Car Door Laws?

The state of California recognizes the threat posed by vehicles that fail to properly open their doors. California law requires all drivers and passengers to take precautions to ensure that the doors do not harm anyone while operating their vehicle. Under California Vehicle Code section 22517, drivers must not open their doors on the side that exposes incoming traffic until it is not reasonably safe to do so. It further provides that no individual may either open the door of a motor vehicle if it interferes with the movement of any passing vehicle or use any side of a vehicle on a highway to exit from it unless it is reasonably safe to do so.

California Vehicle Code section 22517 also stipulates that every person emerging from either side of his vehicle on a highway shall yield the right-of-way to any oncoming traffic and shall continue to exercise caution while in the process of opening the door or leaving the vehicle. Dooring accidents are preventable if drivers and passengers take the essential steps needed to ensure that they open their doors safely.

What is the Responsibility of Drivers when Opening Car Doors?

As a driver, it’s crucial to be mindful of your surroundings while opening your car door. A driver’s responsibility is to judge carefully if it’s practical to exit, and if so, open the door slowly to ensure that there are no incoming bicyclists or pedestrians who might collide with the door. When opening the car door, it’s necessary to keep in mind all the road users that might be affected. A driver must use all their senses to keep the surrounding environment under observation. They should not open a car door until it is safe to do so. Doing so protects both the driver and other road users from approaching hazards.

The Role of Passengers in Pedestrian Open Car Door Accidents

Passengers play a significant role in pedestrian open car door accidents. As a passenger, you have the responsibility of ensuring that you don’t cause harm to pedestrians while you’re exiting the vehicle. Passengers can help prevent dooring accidents by identifying objects or individuals that might present a threat to the vehicle. They should not open a door until it is safe to do so. Furthermore, passengers should check their surroundings, scanning for bicyclists or other cars approaching them.

What Happens if a Driver or Passenger Violates Pedestrian Open Car Door Laws?

If a driver or passenger violates California’s pedestrian open car door laws, they may be liable for damages resulting from the injury. In such cases, the victim can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party, seeking compensation for their medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages. The state of California treats dooring accidents as the responsibility of the driver or the passenger, not the injured parties.


In conclusion, pedestrian open car door laws are a crucial component of road safety. Drivers and passengers must take extra care while opening their car doors to prevent accidents and injuries. The laws are in place to promote safety on the road, and it’s vital to follow them to prevent harm to others. Therefore, when opening a car door, drivers, passengers, and pedestrians must be diligent when operating their vehicles or moving around cars. Remember, safety is everyone’s responsibility, and we must all do our part to keep our roads safe and accessible.


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