Drivers could be hit with £1,000 fine for opening door with wrong hand as rules change

The driving law changes are set to come into effect on January 29, and will see a number of new rules being enforced. One of the most prominent changes will be the introduction of the “Dutch Reach” as a new Highway Code rule to better protect cyclists and pedestrians. Breaking this rule could leave drivers with fines of up to £1,000 under Highway Code penalty rules. 

Peter Lorence, a serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, explained what the Dutch Reach is and why it is being introduced.

He said: “When cycling by parked vehicles, the risk of doors being opened into a cyclist’s path is a real danger and a common cause of collision.

“Previously The Highway Code had warned only for cyclists to watch out for doors being opened.

“Rule 67 has now been revised to provide guidance on the safe distance to pass parked vehicles; it now suggests leaving a door’s width or one metre when doing so. 

READ MORE: New driving laws 2022: The 7 major changes coming for road users

“This better enables those in vehicles to check whether it is safe to open their door, reducing the chance of opening their door into someone’s path.”

This could be argued under the Highway Code penalties of ‘Failing to identify driver of vehicle’.

Anyone who breaks rules relating to that could be hit with fines up to £1,000 or face discretionary disqualification.

This is one the main rules which is set to be added, alongside a host of other new changes designed to make the roads safer for more vulnerable users.

A “hierarchy of road users” is being created with the new changes to bring in more protection for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.

This comes as the Government has invested £338million into promoting cycling and walking.

“In preparing our consultation response, however, we reflected on our clients’ stories and how the life-changing incidents they suffered could have been easily avoided had these changes been made sooner.

“Nevertheless, we celebrate these changes which represent an important step towards eliminating deaths and serious injuries on our roads.”

Speaking about the introduction of the new rules, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps praised the changes and the beneficial impact it will have for cyclists and pedestrians.

He said: “Millions of us have found over the past year how cycling and walking are great ways to stay fit, ease congestion on the roads and do your bit for the environment.

“As we build back greener from the pandemic, we’re determined to keep that trend going by making active travel easier and safer for everyone.”

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