New Highway Code Rule Could Land You With A £1,000 Fine
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The new law, which comes into force later this month, requires drivers to rethink how they open the door when exiting a car.
Drivers and passengers must now open their doors using the ‘Dutch Reach’ method, which requires the use of the hand furthest from the door you're opening.
If you’re the driver, you would normally open the door using your right hand, however under the new law, you must now use your left hand.
Similarly, if you’re a passenger sitting in the front seat, you would typically use your left hand, but under the new rules, you must now use your right.
The new rules have been introduced to protect the safety of cyclists and to ensure drivers don’t blindly open doors.
The new door opening method requires people to turn their bodies towards the door which could allow them to look over their shoulder as they leave their car.
Experts believe adhering to this new method may help people see cyclists, or pedestrians, passing by.
A new section has been added under rule 239, which states: "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 whilst opening your door, you could be punished with a fine of up to £1,000. However, no penalty points will be added to the driver’s licence.
And the ‘Dutch Reach’ name is by no means a coincidence, it is actually the standard way of exiting a vehicle in the Netherlands.
Cycling group Cycling UK, who campaigned for the change, estimates that every year 500 people across England, Wales and Scotland are injured because of drivers and passengers opening car doors into their path.
The new Highway Code comes into law on 29th January 2022.