Cycling UK calls for greater public awareness of 'car dooring'
Figures released by the Department for Transport to Cycling UK show between 2011 and 2015 there were 3108 people were injured, eight fatally, where ‘vehicle door opened or closed negligently’ was a contributing factor in incidents attended by the police. 2009 of the casualties were people cycling, with five resulting in fatalities.
Cycling UK believes that these figures are not fully representative of the scale of the problem, as not all car dooring incidents will be attended by the police.
In a letter to Transport Minister, Jesse Norman MP, Cycling UK Chief Executive Paul Tuohy has called for a public awareness THINK campaign aimed at all car occupants, not just drivers, to look before opening their door.
Cycling UK believe a method where people open car doors with their far hand, rather than the near could prove beneficial and prevent avoidable collisions. This method, sometimes called 'the Dutch Reach' as it is common practice in the Netherlands, has the benefit of allowing the person opening their car door to look behind while also limiting how far their door can open.
The cycling charity has also suggested a public awareness campaign could include advice on safer road positioning for people cycling, so as to create understanding among all road users about the importance of avoiding the 'door zone'.
The charity would also like to see methods like the 'Dutch Reach' promoted through driver training, and changes to the law which would 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’s 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 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.”
Notes to editors
- Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, inspires and helps people to cycle and keep cycling, whatever kind of cycling they do or would like to do. Over a century’s experience tells us that cycling is more than useful transport; it makes you feel good, gives you a sense of freedom and creates a better environment for everyone. www.cyclinguk.org
- 'Car dooring' is a criminal offence under Regulation 105 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1986/1078/regulation/105/made and Section 42 Road Traffic Act 1988 http://www.cyclistsdefencefund.org.uk/the-law-for-cyclists-hit-by-vehic…. However this offence is only punishable by a fine of up to £1,000 and no penalty points can be imposed on the offender’s licence.
- Cycling UK recently made the case for adequate sentencing for car dooring offences in their response to the Ministry of Justice’s consultation on the review of road traffic offences and penalties.
- For further information on the Dutch Reach, a short video of how to do it and Cycling UK’s position see: https://www.cyclinguk.org/blog/samjones/dutch-reach
- There were 3108 reported collisions where ‘vehicle door opened or closed negligently’ was a contributing factor in incidents attended by the police between 2011 and 2015. The breakdown below were released following a FOI from Cycling UK to the Department for Transport requesting a breakdown of the “Contributory factors for reported road accidents (RAS50)” see RAS50007 specifically https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/ras50-contributory-…;
- Cyclist Robert Hamilton was killed in January 2014, when driver Joanne Jackson opened the driver’s door of her car in front of Robert as he was cycling along Linaker Street in Southport. Jackson was prosecuted for a car-dooring offence and fined £305.
- Cyclist Sam Harding was killed https://www.cyclinguk.org/cycle/car-door-dangers in August 2012, when driver Kenan Aydogdu opened his car door in front of Harding on London's Holloway Road. Given that this was not a 'driving offence', and the maximum penalty for car dooring was only £1000, the Crown Prosecution Service brought a 'manslaughter' prosecution against him, but he was acquitted despite his windows being coated with dark plastic film, reducing visibility in and out of the car to 17% of their normal level. He was fined £200 for the car-dooring offence.
- Cyclist Sam Boulton was killed on 27 July 2016 outside of Leicester Train station, when passenger of a private hire vehicle, Ms Chapple opened her door, knocking Sam off his bicycle and into the path of an oncoming Citroen van. Sam sustained fatal injuries and tragically died later that day, his 26th birthday. Ms Chapple, pleaded guilty to the crime of car dooring on 03 March 2017, and was handed a £150 fine, broken down as £80 for the offence, a £40 victim surcharge and £30 court costs. https://www.cyclinguk.org/press-release/2017-03-03/car-dooring-offence-… The driver, Farook Yusuf Bhikhu, had parked illegally on a double yellow line, and was convicted of the offence of ‘car-dooring’ in Loughborough Magistrates Court on 05 June. He was handed a £955 fine, broken down as £300 for the offence, a £30 victim surcharge and £625 court costs, to be paid in £20 weekly instalments. Bhikhu is currently appealing this.
- A “car dooring” is available online at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7aUG02uHo0 This was supplied to Cycling UK by Olukayode Ibrahim, from an incident on 04/09/2017, 78 - 80 Tower Bridge Road, London.
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