Accidents caused by motorists or their passengers opening their car door unexpectedly are common. Particularly when cyclists and motor bike riders are overtaking parked cars or filtering through traffic. It is almost impossible for motorcyclists or cyclists to anticipate car doors opening on approach particularly at night or during bad weather when visibility is hampered.
However it is fairly straightforward for a driver or passenger of a vehicle to check over their shoulder into the blind spot for any oncoming bike riders. Such action could greatly reduce the number of car door accidents and injuries suffered by cyclists and bike riders.
If you have been injured by a motorist or passenger opening a car door into you or your bike unexpectedly whilst out riding, you are entitled to seek compensation for the injuries. We will also help you to repair or replace your damaged bike, any damaged personal belongings and any equipment.
Car door accidents or ‘dooring’ were responsible for 474 accidents across the UK in 2015, according to the Department for Transport (DfT). Dooring made the news in 2016 thanks to Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, who sent a 35-year old cyclist flying when he exited his ministerial car without looking.
The Netherlands ‘Dutch Reach’ Manoeuvre
In the Netherlands, what is referred to as the ‘Dutch Reach‘ manoeuvre has been in use by motorists and passengers for many years now to help reduce the number of injuries particulary to cyclists. Children are taught the manoeuvre at school and by their parents. Motorists in the Netherlands are also tested on the manoeuvre as part of their driving test. The Dutch reach manoeuvre is simple to learn and yet it is so effective in helping to avoid a car door collision.
The manoeuvre simply requires you to open a car door using your opposite hand, so if you were driving a UK right hand drive vehicle a motorist would open the car door with their left hand. This naturally forces the motorist to look over their shoulder towards their blind spot. It’s not surprising the number of car door accidents in the Netherlands is nowhere near as high as the UK.
Cycling UK Charity
There has recently been widespread media attention drawn to the issue of car dooring in the UK through the good work of national cycling charity ‘Cycling UK’. They recently wrote to the transport minister Jesse Norman calling for the launch of a campaign encouraging all car occupants to look before opening a car door to help reduce the number of dooring accidents with cyclists.
The Dangers of Dooring
Cycling UK has repeatedly pressed the Government to introduce new offences of causing serious injury or death by dooring with tougher penalties. The seriousness of dooring was highlighted by the tragic death of cyclist Sam Boulton on the 27th July 2016 in Leicester. Sam was commuting home when a taxi was parked outside the train station. The passenger opened the door without looking. Sam was knocked off his bike into the path of a van. He sustained fatal injuries and sadly died later that day. The passenger pleaded guilty and received a £150 fine. The taxi driver was found guilty of permitting a passenger to open a vehicle ‘so as to injure or endanger a person’. He was ordered to pay a £300 fine, £635 prosecution costs and £30 victim surcharge.
The Legal Position
The Highway Code Rule 239 states that they MUST ensure they do not hit anyone when opening their door. It also states that it is safer for passengers (especially children) to get out on the side next to the kerb. Failure to comply with the Highway Code is not a criminal offence in itself but will assist any civil claim for compensation a biker or cyclist makes after a collision.
Section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 makes it an offence to open “any door of a vehicle on a road so as to injure or endanger any person”. There does not need to be a collision – the offence arises simply by endangering any person. Currently, the offence is only punishable by a fine of up to £1,000. There is no provision for penalty points or a custodial sentence.
If you have been injured by an opening car door and suffered injury call us today or request a free call back to see how we can help you make a claim for injury compensation and get you back on the road.