Road Safety News

‘Car dooring’ campaign could help prevent ‘avoidable collisions’

Monday 11th September 2017

Cycling UK is calling for a public awareness campaign on ‘car dooring’, on the back of figures which show the offence led to eight deaths between 2011 and 2015.

The figures, released to Cycling UK by the DfT, show that between 2011 and 2015, 3,108 people were injured, eight fatally, in incidents attended by the police where ‘vehicle door opened or closed negligently’ was a contributing factor.

The vast majority of the casualties - 2,009 including five fatalities - were cyclists.

However, Cycling UK believes that these figures are not fully representative of the scale of the problem, as not all car dooring incidents will be reported or attended by the police.

Cycling UK believes a method used in the Netherlands whereby people open car doors with their far hand, rather than the hand closest to the door, could ‘prove beneficial’ and prevent ‘avoidable collisions’.

According to the charity, the method known as ‘the Dutch Reach’ has the benefit of allowing the person opening the car door to look behind while also limiting how far the door can be opened.

The charity would like to see methods like the ‘Dutch Reach’ promoted during driver training.

Cycling UK  has also written to road safety minister Jesse Norman, calling for a THINK! campaign to encourage all car occupants (not just drivers) to look before opening a door.

Cycling UK says the campaign could also include advice on safer road positioning for cyclists in order to raise awareness among all road users of the importance of avoiding the ‘door zone’.

The charity would also like to see to see a change to the law to include an offence of ‘death or serious injury through negligently opening a car door’. The current offence of car dooring currently carries a maximum £1,000 penalty, even if someone dies or is seriously injured as a result of the incident.

Paul Tuohy, Cycling UK chief executive, said: “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.

“In the Netherlands they are known for practicing a method, known sometimes as the ‘Dutch Reach’, which we think could be successfully encouraged in the UK.

“Cycling UK has written to the DfT asking them to look into this, and highlight the dangers of ‘car-dooring’ through a public awareness THINK! style campaign.”

Category: Cycling.


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It appears to me from the many comments this thread and all other matters mentioned on this website that in many cases the answer comes down to the fact that we need to educate the general road using public. We need to educate them on many matters that so far they have failed to act upon properly, perhaps due to their ignorance and or failure to comprehend the basic knowledge that is all about how to be safe on our roads.

Education being one of the major three or should it be four of the basic principals for an understanding of road safety.

So what we need in principal is a simple book containing some lawful advice that any driver or road user can read and understand. We can make it simpler by putting it into sections, one say for car drivers and one for pedestrians and one for cyclists etc. and also some pages for general information for all to read and understand and that would be of benefit.

Perhaps someday someone or maybe the government will print such a pamphlet or small book and maybe make it available to every household in the country so that all can be made aware and be amazed at how safe our roads should be. That would be a eutopian dream.

Or maybe we should all read the Highway Code!
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (4) | Disagree (1)

It's a challenge for local authorities to deliver all the messages required. I know Cycling UK is working hard to raise its profile and agenda.

Perhaps putting this problem into context with other road danger to cyclists would be helpful to prioritise the top 5 messages? It would also be useful if Cycling UK could have analysed the problem for motorcyclists to reinforce the case and also justify a joint campaign.
Nadeem Up North

Agree (4) | Disagree (0)

Have you read the report from the Netherlands. It seems that a few cyclists are killed and some injured. However that is considered just the tip of the iceberg as many thousands more suffer but no complaints are made. So when it comes to stats they can truly say that they have only a few suffering and yet they know and hide the truth that many more suffer damage and injury also.

Is that therefore any recommendation for us as it has been the case in the past where the Netherlands has been put up as the epitomy of safety in numbers that others including us should aspire to.
m.worthington Manchester

Agree (4) | Disagree (0)

Two things that drivers don't do.

One is looking around by twisting the body and looking over one's shoulder... as if it's too much trouble to do so.

Two is not actually seeing what one is looking at or for. So often we just glance and that's not a true look as it's so short a time that we end up with just a scan and then we do not take in what we are actually looking for, or actually see it and recognise it. It's like the sacades effect of looking from one point to another and missing everything in between.
m.worthington Manchester

Agree (6) | Disagree (3)

What's the cultural norm in The Netherlands is not so much using your far hand as it is to simply just look over your shoulder before you fling that door open. Looking in the mirror is not enough, the blind spot of a car is easily big enough to hide a person on a bike. Look. Just look.
Mark, Nederland

Agree (10) | Disagree (3)

It is not just about cyclists. It affects motorcyclists and from a passenger perspective the pedestrians on the pavements. When I trained to be an ADI in the 80s I was taught this by a New Zealander and used it in my lessons. It is part of any talk with young drivers and passengers about responsibilities.
Peter City of Westminster

Agree (11) | Disagree (0)

I, on the other hand Pat, don't want to end up in Court nor, more importantly, do I want to collide with anyone or anything, so for me, it's 100% responsibility on me to avoid slower-moving vulnerable road users - a message all those involved in road safety/collision reduction reduction should be promoting surely? Defensive driving/riding by all would slash collision rates.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (10) | Disagree (4)

The principle for me is joint/shared responsibility Hugh. Start at 50%-50% and allow the court to move the slider up and down as appropriate to the facts of the case.
Pat, Wales

Agree (11) | Disagree (8)

I think it's a case of least vulnerable versus most vulnerable road user Pat and how the former group should take greater responsibility for the latter. Cyclists can't always ride in an absolute straight line and a close passing driver will most likely cause injury, or worse, to the cyclist if there was an unavoidable wobble and then contact - not the other way around. A driver opening a sharp edged car door in the path of a moving cyclist will probably cause injury or worse to the cyclist but in the former scenario, it's the driver sensibly allowing for an unpreventable wobble by a cyclist, whereas in the latter, the opening car door is not the same as an unpreventable wobble. Yes, a sensible cyclist should give parked cars a wide berth just in case - agreed - but the onus is still on the driver to check first.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (9) | Disagree (4)

Drivers are being targeted by the "close pass" campaign for being responsible for passing too close to cyclists and that's fair enough in principle.

Therefore using similar logic shouldn't there be a variation of the "close pass" campaign targeted at cyclists as responsible for passing too close to a stationary vehicle? Motorcyclists and cyclists are taught about the dangers of passing too close to car doors, so in a 'car dooring' collision perhaps it should be set as standard at 50%-50% responsibility between the one who failed to look before opening the door and the one who failed to keep sufficient space to the side to avoid a problem.
Pat, Wales

Agree (19) | Disagree (8)

It's good to read an actual piece of practical advice directly linked to a 'collision-causing action', rather than just another study merely highlighting a problem and suggesting 'something needs to be be done about it'. I'm sure this technique would also reduce incidences of 'door v car passing too close' syndrome as well.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (11) | Disagree (0)

This of course has been a problem for decades for motorcyclists but no one has listened to their plight.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (11) | Disagree (3)