What is ‘car dooring’, is it illegal and why is it dangerous?

The issue of ‘car dooring’ – which is when people open car doors into the path of approaching cyclists – has become a hot topic recently.

Private taxi firm Uber hit the headlines in the US after it was forced to urge its passengers to be more careful when opening doors after a spate of incidents that left cyclists injured. It added safety features to its app that encourages passengers to be more vigilant, especially if they are being dropped off on roads with cycle lanes.

In the UK, Government Transport Secretary Chris Grayling was also caught on camera in 2016 opening his door into the path of a cyclist.

Here, Browell Smith & Co looks at the issue, whether it is illegal, and what could happen to car drivers or passengers who do hit cyclists with their doors.

Is car dooring dangerous?

Yes, car dooring is dangerous – potentially very dangerous.

Figures released by the Department for Transport (DfT) show that, between 2011 and 2015, there were 3,108 people injured in the UK where ‘vehicle door opened or closed negligently’ was a recorded contributing factor in incidents attended by the police. 2,009 of those casualties were people cycling, with five resulting in fatalities.

When you consider that there will have been many more incidents that were not attended by police, you begin to see the scale of the problem.

Is car dooring illegal?

It is an offence under the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 to ‘open, or cause or permit to be opened, any door of a vehicle on a road so as to injure or endanger any person’.

However, the threat of injury, serious injury or death to cyclists has led lobbying group Cycling UK to start a campaign to see a new offence introduced specifically around car dooring cyclists.

What is the ‘Dutch Reach’ and can that help?

The Dutch Reach is a technique that involves opening the car door with the hand that is furthest from the door. So a driver in the UK would use their left hand to open the door on their right-hand side.

The logic behind this is that it forces the occupant of the car to twist round and see what is in their blind spot as they open the door. It is called the Dutch Reach because it is widely used in the Netherlands, which is a famously cycle-friendly country.

The Dutch Reach has even been added to the Highway Code in the UK as the recommended method of opening a car door safely.

If this happens, who is liable?

In most cases, if it can be shown that the injured cyclist had little or no time to react to the door being opened, then the insurer of the vehicle and its driver will accept responsibility for what has happened.

This will naturally have an effect on future insurance premiums, so it’s something to bear in mind.

 

Browell Smith & Co has extensive experience representing, and getting justice, for cyclists who have been injured on the road. You can follow this link for more information about Browell Smith & Co’s personal injury expertise.

Contact our expert team today to arrange a no-obligation chat at any of our offices, in Newcastle, Cramlington, Ashington and Sunderland, or alternatively by 0800 107 3000, to discuss your particular requirements.

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