Dangerous Doors: Your Legal Responsibility to Safely Exit a Motor Vehicle
Did you know that you have a legal responsibility to ensure it is safe prior to exiting a motor vehicle? Section 165 of the Highway Traffic Act states that no person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on a roadway without first taking due precautions to ensure that his or her act will not interfere with the movement of or endanger any other person or vehicle. This is important to remember when you are parked on the side of a street and go to exit the vehicle you are in, either as a driver or passenger. This is even more important to remember with the nicer weather upon us and an increase of pedestrians and cyclists on the roadway. Be sure to check your rear-view and side mirrors as well as your blind spot and when you go to exit your vehicle, look in the direction of approaching traffic. Also, avoid leaving your door open while you are still in the vehicle.
Given the speed at which vehicles and cyclists travel, it is important to check your surroundings immediately prior to exiting the vehicle as the situation could change very quickly. For example, if you have parked your vehicle and checked your surroundings, but then take a moment to gather your things, it is important to re-check your surroundings prior to exiting the vehicle, regardless of the amount of time that has passed. The Courts have found that a failure to do so amounts to not taking “due precautions” as required and could result in a conviction under section 165 as well as a finding of negligence in the context of civil litigation.
It is important to be aware of your obligations as both a driver and passenger of a motor vehicle. The rules and regulations set out in the Highway Traffic Act were put in place to ensure we can all share the roadway safely. Failure to follow the rules can result in serious consequences for both yourself and other uses of the roadway.
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