The dangers of dooring
‘Dooring’ is an accident which occurs when a passenger or driver of a car opens their door without looking properly and causes a cyclist to swerve or crash as a result. With growing numbers of cyclists and increasing levels of congestion in busy city centres, dooring has become a major cause of accidents as car passengers exit vehicles without due attention to those around them.
According to Government statistics, there were 248 accidents due to vehicle doors being opened negligently in 2019 alone; 65 of those accidents resulted in serious injuries, and four of these accidents caused fatal injuries.
Although car dooring incidents are likely to lead to relatively minor injuries, they can lead to serious injury or death. Unfortunately, this is something we have experienced as specialist cycling accident solicitors.
Our personal injury lawyers recently helped a cyclist claim compensation for injuries sustained in a car dooring accident. Find out more in this case study.
How to avoid dooring
So, what can be done to improve road safety and reduce the number of dooring accidents?
There has been proven research into ‘Dutch Reach’, where the far hand is used when opening car doors, so car occupants are positioned to look behind them by default as they exit the vehicle, helping you to spot approaching other road users such as cyclists or pedestrians. This technique also limits how far the door can open, reducing the risk of cyclists hitting the door.
Research into the ‘Dutch Reach’ has resulted in this method being recommended in the Highway Code, to better protect cyclists and pedestrians, as follows:
- Dutch reach; rule 239 of the Highway Code: “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”
- Rule 67 and 213: the updated Highway Code explains that people cycling should “take care when passing parked vehicles, leaving enough room (a door’s width or one metre) to avoid being hit if a car door is opened.”
UK drivers also need to be aware that they are responsible for their passenger’s behaviour in this regard, as well as their own. If a passenger opens a door in front of a cyclist or pedestrian, the car’s driver can still be held liable.
Finally, it almost goes without saying that the best way to avoid dooring is the same as for all other forms of road traffic accidents: look properly and be diligent in how you treat fellow road users.
Case study | £21,000 for dooring accident
How we can help
As specialist personal injury solicitors, we’re familiar with dooring cases, where cyclists or pedestrians are injured because a car door has opened in their path.