Most drivers ‘clueless’ about big changes to Highway Code and could break law

Most drivers are not aware that the 'Dutch Reach' will soon become law in the UK under sweeping changes being made to the Highway Code.

The new rule means that any driver exiting a car must open it with the arm furthest away from the handle.

This is to ensure that their body is positioned so they are facing out of the window and down the road when getting out, meaning that they will see any cyclists that could be hit by the door.

Out of 10,000 people surveyed by road safety charity IAM RoadSmart, a staggering 85 percent were unaware of the enforcement of the Dutch Reach.

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But according to the organisation, it is “especially important” that drivers do familiarise themselves with the new policy, both for themselves and for the safety of their fellow road users.

The reach is important, according to Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart, because wing-mirrors and rear-view mirrors do not offer enough perspective of oncoming cyclists, which leads to 'car-dooring' accidents.

He said: “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.”

It will be mentioned in an updated Rule 239 in the ‘Waiting and parking’ chapter of the Highway Code.

The new text will read: “You should open the door using your hand on the opposite side to the door you are opening, e.g. use your left hand to open a door on your right-hand side."

The update to the Highway Code is also set to create a “hierarchy of road users”.

Those who are considered to have the potential to do the greatest harm to others will be judged to be the most responsible to reduce the danger on other road users.

According to IAMRoadSmart, it will now be a legal requirement to give way to pedestrians who are waiting to cross at a zebra crossing.

This will also give priority to pedestrians and cyclists wishing to move at a parallel crossing.

Until now, it was only required that you stop your vehicles if pedestrian had already started to cross the road.

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