The Highway Code has been updated and from 29th January 2022, the ‘Dutch Reach’ has been recommended for both drivers and passengers.
What is the Dutch Reach?
The Dutch Reach is a simple method of opening a car door with the hand furthest away from the door. In a right-hand-drive car, the driver should use their left hand and for passengers the right hand should be used.
It originated 50 years ago in the Netherlands and this simple technique could help save lives as well as prevent injuries.
How does it work?
By reaching over across your body with the hand furthest from the door results in the following:
- It forces the person opening the door to look over their shoulder for oncoming road users and pedestrians.
- It is much more difficult for the door to be flung open quickly.
- The door won’t be opened as wide allowing a slightly larger gap for passing vehicles and cyclists.
“Dooring” – A Criminal Offence
Dooring is a traffic collision where a cyclist or motorcyclist is struck by a car door.
The responsibility lies with the driver to ensure that it is safe for passengers to exit the vehicle.
Section 239 of the Highway Code states:
- you MUST ensure you do not hit anyone when you open your door. Check for cyclists or other traffic by looking all around and using your mirrors
- where you are able to do so, you should open the door using your hand on the opposite side to the door you are opening; for example, use your left hand to open a door on your right-hand side. This will make you turn your head to look over your shoulder. You are then more likely to avoid causing injury to cyclists or motorcyclists passing you on the road, or to people on the pavement
Dooring is a criminal offence and could result in a £1,000 fine or a penalty notice. Many will argue that tougher penalties need to be introduced. Dooring is treated as a minor offence even though people have been killed or seriously injured from this careless act.
Dooring is surprisingly common and yet to date it receives little attention. Accidents can be caused by cyclists or motorcyclist colliding directly with a car door or swerving to avoid being hit by a car door. Accidents involving pedestrians being hit by car doors usually result in less serious injuries.
I have represented a cyclist who sustained a number of serious injuries after being knocked off his bike when a driver opened their car door into his path leaving him no time to stop or swerve to avoid the accident. If the driver had used the Dutch Reach, his accident could have been prevented. Fortunately, my Client made a good recovery and received compensation for his injuries as well as his damaged bike, helmet and clothing.
The Dutch Reach
Dooring is a common and careless act. Adopting this simple approach of opening a car door using the hand furthest away from the door forces the individual to look over their shoulder for oncoming traffic. This simple act will help to reduce the number of injuries and deaths on our roads as a result of dooring.
If you have been injured in a road traffic accident, it is important to seek advice from a specialist personal injury solicitor as soon as possible. To speak to one of our experts call 0808 252 5231 or request a callback.