Thursday 14 December 2017

How opening your car door like the Dutch could save someone's life

The Dutch Reach is part of the driving test in the Netherlands
The Dutch Reach is part of the driving test in the Netherlands

Hugh Morris

Titter all your like but the Dutch Reach is no laughing matter.

It's no euphemism, but the name of a simple manoeuvre that, if widely adopted by motorists, could save lives.

Originating some 50 years ago in (no prizes for guessing where) the Netherlands, the Dutch Reach is a method of opening a car door with the hand furthest from the handle, so in the UK, the left hand of the driver, or right hand of the passenger.

This means motorists are forced to turn their body towards the door, allowing them the opportunity to look over their shoulder to see whether a cyclist - or motorcyclist - is coming.

In the Netherlands it is taught to children both in school and from their parents, as well as being a required section of the driving test.

The method has become a central pillar to groups campaigning to put an end to “dooring”, the rather literal name that describes when a cyclist is knocked off their bike by an opening car door.

Hitting someone with a car door may sound trivial, but has been involved in the deaths of dozens of cyclists around the world (as of 2013, 25 killed, according to

How to do the Dutch Reach

An instructional video by Outside magazine has become one of the most popular blueprints for how to learn the method, with a YouTube video watched more than one million times.

In the simplest terms, the Dutch Reach is opening the car door using your 'far hand', allowing your body to pivot to look behind.

The Dutch Reach project says: "Look out, at mirror and easily back for bikes and traffic. All clear? Then open slowly, remaining vigilant.

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