Victoria Police Department - Weekly Traffic Law Reminder: shut the door as quickly as possible
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By Julian Huerta
This week's traffic law is found in The Texas Transportation Code
Sec.545.418- Opening Vehicle Doors. A person may not:
(1) Open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless the door may be opened in reasonable safety without interfering with the movement of other traffic; or
(2) Leave a door on the side of a vehicle next to moving traffic open for longer than is necessary to load or unload a passenger.
Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.
Why the emphasis on this particular traffic law?
This traffic law is being addressed because of complaints, particularly in the downtown area on Main Street.
As you can see by reading the law, it clearly addresses the aspect of not opening your car door until it is safe to do so. Some examples of interfering with traffic include the following: a vehicle having to brake, completely come to a stop, swerve, etc. to avoid hitting the open door. The same applies in regards to taking too long to exit your vehicle with the door open into traffic - you must be as prompt as possible, so as you do not interfere with vehicles legally trying to proceed along the roadway.
Not adhering to this law may cause a crash, which may result not just in vehicle damage, but the likelihood of someone ending up hurt is also very high. Notwithstanding the law, each situation an officer encounters with this violation would be looked at individually. If, for example, the reason the car door being open for a lengthy time is to extract or assist an elderly subject out, this would be a factor into the enforcement action. A subject who simply didn't show any concern for the safety of others may very likely be issued a citation in this situation.
Is this really a legal or valid reason to be stopped or cited?
As defined by the Texas Transportation Code, you can see, the officer would be within his authority to effect a stop and take whatever enforcement action that particular officer deems appropriate. Remember, traffic enforcement is about correcting driving errors through issuing of warnings and citations as a means of education and compliance, to help assure a safe driving environment for everyone.
If you have a traffic law question, contact Sgt. Julian Huerta, Victoria Police Department Traffic Safety Unit, 361-485-3700.