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You Could Be Fined £1,000 For Opening The Door With The Wrong Hand

by : Hannah Smith on :
You Could Be Fined £1,000 For Opening The Door With The Wrong Hand
You Could Be Fined £1,000 For Opening The Door With The Wrong Hand (Alamy)

New changes to the Highway Code have introduced surprising new guidance for drivers, as they're now being told to open their car doors using a specific hand.

In the update, which is set to come into force next week, drivers are set to be told to get out of their cars by opening the door with the hand farthest away from the door, in a technique known as the 'Dutch Reach'.

It sounds like overkill, but there's actually a good reason for the advice, and it could even help drivers avoid being slapped with a hefty £1,000 fine.

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Dooring (Alamy)
Dooring (Alamy)

According to the Highway Code, the 'Dutch Reach' technique is designed to help drivers be more aware of any potential hazards when they open a door, such as cyclists or pedestrians.

Rule 239 reads:

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. 
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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.

By opening the door with the hand furthest away from the handle, drivers will naturally turn their bodies so they're looking over their shoulder, making them more aware of what's behind them as they opening the door.

The change in guidance was added to the upcoming update to the Highway Code after a campaign by Cycling UK, who estimate that as many as 500 people in the UK are injured every year by drivers who open their doors into their path without checking – known as 'dooring', per Devon Live.

Dooring demonstration (Alamy)
Dooring demonstration (Alamy)
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Under the Highway Code, motorists who injure a pedestrian or cyclist with their door can be liable for up to a £1,000 fine, meaning the 'Dutch Reach' could end up saving drivers a fair bit of money, too.

Opening doors with your opposite hand is common practice in many European countries, including The Netherlands – one of the most bike-friendly countries in the world – hence the name 'Dutch Reach.'

The advice isn't just for drivers, with passengers also encouraged to get used to employing the 'Dutch Reach' when getting out of a car.

The updated Highway Code will come into force on January 29.

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Hannah Smith

Hannah is a London-based journalist covering news and features for UNILAD. She's especially interested in social and political activism and culture.

Topics: News, UK News