Dooring fines more than double in Victoria

Fines for dooring offences in Victoria have more than doubled – to a maximum court penalty of $1408.

The on-the-spot fine for dooring has risen to $352, up from $141 – up from one penalty unit to 2.5.

The maximum court penalty has risen from $423 (three penalty units) to $1408 (10 units).

VicRoads has begun an advertising campaign warning drivers to look for cyclists before they open a car door.

The ads say that under Rule 269(3) of the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009, it is an offence to cause a hazard to a person or a vehicle by opening a door, leaving a door of a vehicle open or getting off or out of a vehicle.

The new fine scale began in August.

“This increase is to reflect the risk to bike riders and other road users from the risks of vehicle doors opening in their path,” the VicRoads ads say.

In tips for drivers and passengers, the ads say:

“When getting out of your car, always use your mirrors and do a head check before opening your door (one way to do this is to open the driver’s door with your left hand).

“When getting into your car, face the oncoming traffic so you can see bike riders and other road users travelling towards you. Do not open your car door until they have passed.

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Interest in the issue was triggered last January by Coroner Heather Spooner’s findings after her inquest late last year into the death of cyclist James Cross in Hawthorn in 2010 – in which a police officer said senior officers had stopped her charging the driver involved.

Ms Spooner heard evidence during the inquest that the rate of doorings had increased dramatically, reaching 171 in 2009 and 161 in 2010. In nearly all the recorded crashes, there was an injury of some kind.

Bicycle Network Victoria said the trend also was reflected in its membership crash data, which showed doorings doubling in a year.

Dooring made news in Melbourne again last Christmas Eve when Country Fire Authority Chief Officer Euan Ferguson broke his hand in a dooring crash at Hawthorn.

Last January, Victoria Police, VicRoads, Bicycle Network Victoria and Road Safe Action Group – Inner Melbourne launched a campaign aimed at riders and drivers on how to avoid dooring crashes.

Bicycle Network Victoria said at that time that a dooring crash was always the fault of the driver but cyclists could take measures to lessen the risk of a collision.

“Ride sensibly and predictably in a consistent straight line to avoid dangerous or risky situations,” it said.

“Cyclists can see a lot more than drivers inside a car – allow for them not being able to see cyclists easily and be wary until eye contact has been made.

“Do not weave in and out of car spaces and traffic or ride fast in narrow spaces with little room for error – such as between two vehicles unless there is room to swerve or time to stop.

“Stay out of the door zone – about 1.5m from the car – or ride at a speed from which it is possible to stop.

“Watch ahead for cars with people in them, sometimes hard to see with high headrests.”



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