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.”