The ‘Dutch Reach’ Can Save Dooring Accidents

The ‘Dutch Reach’ Can Save Dooring Accidents
The ‘Dutch Reach’ Can Save Dooring Accidents

Urban bikers, both pedal and motor powered, encounter many dangers, Path-clogging pedestrians and reckless drivers are among the most obvious, but bikers also face an under-the-radar road risk called “dooring”; the collision that results when a parked driver opens their car door into an oncoming biker’s path.

It’s hard to determine just how often they occur. However, US Department of Transportation data from 2011 found that one in five bike crashes in Chicago were caused by dooring that year. To prevent dooring accidents, drivers in the Netherlands rely on a simple practice that’s been dubbed the “Dutch Reach” After parking, they reach for their car door’s handle using their right arm instead of their left one, even though the latter is closer to the door (right hand side driving).

This method forces the drivers to pivot their bodies so they look over their shoulders, allowing them to notice incoming bikers on the street. Children in the Netherlands learn this habit from their teachers and parents, and it’s even included in their driving tests. Considerable international interest in the term and method followed its coinage, suggesting that the far hand method was little known across the globe. Press, electronic media and internet news coverage about the Dutch Reach method has now occurred in numerous countries, including China, Hong Kong, India, Japan and Korea.

Thailand’s dense traffic conditions with narrow backstreet situations, increases the propensity for bikers and pedestrians passing very close to parked cars, suggesting that the ‘Dutch Reach’ is equally valid here.

The correct way of opening doors in right hand drive countries Consider getting into the habit of opening the car door with your far (left for drivers) hand and you will always be looking towards anything or anyone about to pass before the door is opened. Even passengers could consider this form of exit; you never know where bikers will appear next!