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Author Lauren Howells
Cycling UK has called for a public awareness THINK campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of car dooring.
In a letter to Transport Minister, Jesse Norman MP, Cycling UK called for a campaign that would encourage drivers and passengers of cars to look before opening their door.
Over 3,000 people injured where a ‘vehicle door opened or closed negligently’
Figures released to Cycling UK by the Department for Transport showed that there were 3,108 people injured between 2011 and 2015, where a ‘vehicle door opened or closed negligently’ was a “contributing factor in incidents attended by the police”. Of these, eight people were killed.
Out of the 3,108 people injured, 2009 were cycling. Five died from their injuries.
Cycling UK said that they did not believe that these figures were “fully representative” of the size of the problem because not all car dooring incidents would have been attended by the police.
‘Dutch Reach’ method could prove beneficial
Teaching people to open car doors with the hand that is farthest away from the door, something which is common practice in the Netherlands could serve to prevent avoidable collisions, according to Cycling UK.
The theory is, that by opening the car door with your far hand, this should allow you a chance to look behind and check there are no cyclists (or other hazards) approaching. It would also limit how much the door could be opened.
The cycling charity suggests that methods like the ‘Dutch Reach’, could be promoted through driver training.
Chief Executive of Cycling UK, Paul Tuohy, said: “In the Netherlands, they are known for practising a method, known sometimes as the “Dutch Reach”, which we think could be successfully encouraged in the UK. Cycling UK has written to the Department for Transport asking them to look into this, and highlight the dangers of car-dooring through a public awareness THINK style campaign.”
Safer road positioning advice for cyclists
Any public awareness campaign could also include advice on safer road positioning for people cycling, says Cycling UK, so that everyone using a road is aware of the need to avoid the ‘door zone’.
Cycling UK want to see changes to the law for car dooring
Although car dooring is a criminal offence, it is only punishable by a fine of a maximum of £1,000.
This is the case even if someone dies or is very seriously injured.
Cycling UK would like to see changes to the law, including an offence of ‘death or serious injury through negligently opening a car door’.
Mr Tuohy added: “Some people seem to see car dooring as a bit of a joke, but it’s not and can have serious consequences.
“Cycling UK wants to see greater awareness made about the dangers of opening your car door negligently, and people to be encouraged to look before they open.”