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The ‘Dutch Reach’ requires drivers to open the door with the hand furthest from the door, which is supposed to encourage people to look for cyclists before doing so.
If, for example, you’re seated at the wheel on the right-hand side of the vehicle, you should open the door with your left hand – and vice versa if you’re in the passenger seat.
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 someone is injured as a result of you opening your car door, you may be punished by a fine of up to £1,000 – although no penalty points can be added to your license.
The ‘Dutch Reach’ was a term coined by retired physician Michael Charney, who launched a website to help spread the word of the technique after hearing of the death of a local 27-year-old nursing student, who had been hit by a car door.
Last September, research by IAM RoadSmart found that 85 percent of the 10,000 people it asked – which included members and the general public – were unaware of what the Dutch Reach is.
“This highlights the need for all drivers, not just learners, to familiarise themselves with this new measure,” IAM RoadSmart said.
Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart, commented: “Due to blind spots, dirt, glare, or improper adjustment, mirrors alone are ineffective in attempts to put the brakes on cycling injuries and fatalities caused by drivers and passengers exiting their vehicles. The Dutch Reach is also especially important for rear passengers, who of course don’t have the benefit of mirrors.”
Greig added: “IAM RoadSmart believes all road users should take equal responsibility for their safety on the roads and that the hierarchy may encourage some to take unnecessary risks. While the existing rule states drivers should watch out for pedestrians crossing a road into which you are turning and ‘if they have started to cross’, they have priority, the new code makes explicit that pedestrians and cyclists have priority when travelling straight ahead at junctions.”
Which should be good news for this driver - who managed to break 10 rules of the Highway Code in just 90 seconds:
Rule 186 says that those driving cars and other motorised vehicles will have to give priority to cyclists at roundabouts.
The new rule comes in on 29 January and basically rejigs the hierarchy of the road based upon who is at the most risk at roundabouts.
Under the new law, those who can cause the most harm on the roads will bear a higher burden of responsibility to prevent accidents and – in theory – increase awareness, causing less injuries and deaths on the road.
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