Personal Injury specialist and avid cyclist Bruce Dyer looks at accidents caused by dooring.
Call Bruce on 01225 462871. Alternatively, complete the Contact Form at the foot of this page.
What is dooring?
‘Dooring’ refers to an accident caused by a vehicle’s occupant opening a door into the path of another road user. Unsurprisingly, cyclists are particularly susceptible to accidents caused by dooring, as are users of e-scooters. As a cyclist, I’ve had some very close encounters with car doors and am always particularly wary when passing stationary or parked vehicles.
Worsening congestion in many urban areas means dooring is on the increase. And NHS statistics reveal that in 2019, 248 people required hospital treatment for dooring. Of those, 65 were seriously injured and, tragically, four died. This is not surprising when you consider that dooring is the equivalent of colliding with a brick wall at 15 or 20 miles per hour.
How to avoid dooring
Dooring simply results from failing to look properly behind you before opening a vehicle’s door. As such, it’s very easy to avoid, and considerable research is available on the so-called ‘Dutch Reach’. This method is where a vehicle’s occupant uses their far hand when opening a door. In doing so, they are better positioned to look behind them as they begin to exit the vehicle. In addition, this technique also limits how far the door can open, further reducing the risk to cyclists and other road users.
Research proving the benefits of the Dutch Reach has resulted in its inclusion in the Highway Code. Rule 239 states:
“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.”
But in addition, Rule 67 (and Rule 213) advises cyclists to “take care when passing parked vehicles, leaving enough room (a door’s width or 1 metre) to avoid being hit if a car door is opened”.
Driver’s liability for a passenger’s actions
Drivers should be aware they are potentially responsible for their passenger’s behaviour. So, if a passenger opens a door in front of a cyclist, the driver can be held liable. Drivers should caution passengers to take care before exiting the vehicle, particularly on a busy street. Remember, as a driver, the rear view and wing mirrors provide you with a far better indication of what is happening around the vehicle than your passengers.