What is the ‘Dutch Reach’ and why you should do it

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When drivers open the car door from inside with their left hand, it forces them to look behind for approaching cyclists.

The Dutch Reach, made famous by policy in the cycle-friendly Netherlands, sees drivers open their car doors with their left hand (passengers with their right) when exiting a vehicle. This forces them to look over their shoulders for approaching cyclists, who might otherwise crash into an opening car door.

That happened decades ago and is now common in the Netherlands and a practice that has slashed the number of cyclist and car door-related incidents.

The move is also being popularised by governments in other countries, with the USA including the move into its driver training in 2019, and now drivers and passengers are being encouraged to use the ‘Dutch Reach’ when opening car doors from the inside in the UK with the country’s new Highway Code updates. A new page of the GOV.UK website reads: “The code recommends a new technique when leaving vehicles. It’s sometimes called the ‘Dutch Reach’.

Where people driving or passengers in a vehicle are able to do so, they should open the door using their hand on the opposite side to the door they are opening. For example, using their left hand to open a door on their right-hand side.

This will make them turn their head to look over their shoulder behind them.”

Australia is a little further behind, although some organisations are encouraging it as best they can. But ultimately it remains out of local driver testing in Australia despite the fact that incidents from cyclists hitting car doors can be serious, and simple a technique such as the Dutch Reach could help reduce it.

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