New Highway Code rule will fine drivers £1,000 for opening door with wrong hand

·2-min read
File photo (Shutterstock / Dan Race)

A new rule will see drivers fined £1,000 if they open the door with the wrong hand, as the Highway Code is updated.

The ‘Dutch Reach’ requires drivers to use the hand furthest the door to open it to ensure cyclists are not injured.

Those sitting behind the wheel are required to use their left hand, while passengers would use their right.

Drivers and passengers must adhere to the new rule to protect cyclists instead of blindly opening a door, which campaign group Cycling UK estimates can injure up to 500 people every year in the UK.

The rationale behind the move is opening the door with the hand furthest away prompts the driver to turn their body towards the door and look over their shoulder as they exit the vehicle.

In doing so, they will see any cyclists or pedestrians passing by their car that they may have missed if they had not checked.

Under changes to the Highway Code, the new section under rule 239 will now read: “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 motor cyclists passing you on the road, or to people on the pavement.”

If you injure someone by opening your door you can be punished by a fine of up to £1,000.

No penalty points can be added to the offender’s licence.

Extensive campaigning on the ‘Dutch Reach’ by Cycling UK has been key to the implementation of the new advice.

It estimate that over 500 people in the UK are injured by motorists opening a car door into someone’s cycle path every year.

The issue was further brought into the public eye in 2016 when Chris Grayling, who was then serving as Transport Secretary, was caught knocking a cyclist off their bike when opening his door on Whitehall.

This term was coined in the Netherlands, where it has always been used as standard for exiting a vehicle.

The latest addition of the Highway Code and the legal enforcement of new rules, comes into force on Saturday, January 29.