You may not have realized this before, but the way you open your car door after parking can be extremely important. Believe it or not, you can actually do quite a bit of damage in your car while it’s parked. However, the Dutch have found a simple way to avoid possible accidents while disembarking from your car, and all you have to do is change the way you open the car door just slightly. This solution is called the Dutch Reach, and it’s becoming an increasingly popular and recommended part of driving.
What Is the Dutch Reach?
Simply put, the Dutch Reach requires you to open your car door with your right hand, which is the hand furthest from the door, instead of using your left hand which is, perhaps, easier, and therefore the common and almost instinctive choice, but far less effective. This seemingly small act can make a huge difference because opening the door with your right-hand causes your body to turn so you the road behind you is completely visible to you as you open the door. The people of the Netherlands have been practicing this method of door-opening for years, and in doing so, they have prevented numerous accidents.
Why Is It Important?
Using the Dutch Reach could potentially help avoid numerous collisions that can occur, more specifically bike crashes. Most cities have bike lanes that are often right beside places suitable for parking. Most people have experienced moments opening their car door and having an oncoming cyclist or jogger nearly crash into it, or even perhaps another car.
A report on bike crashes in the city of Chicago, Illinois, between 2010 and 2012 noted that up to 19.7% of bike crashes occurred due to collisions into car doors, a phenomenon now termed as “dooring”. A similar study in the UK in 2011 also found that nearly 600 cyclists received injuries due to such collisions or while attempting to avoid colliding with a car door.
This problem has become ever increasing as the number of people choosing to use cycling as a regular form of transportation grows. There are also concerns for the younger generation, given that many children opt to cycle to school.
The Dutch Reach in America
Given that the Dutch Reach is an easy, simple and efficient way of helping to prevent parking accidents and door-based collisions, i.e., dooring, it’s no surprise that this method of disembarking from cars has made its way to America. An organization based out of Massachusetts called the Dutch Reach Project has made spreading the word about the Dutch Reach their foremost goal. They provide numerous helpful tips on how to get acquainted with using the Dutch Reach, though their motto “Reach, Swivel, Look Out & Back, Open Slowly”, clearly lists out the steps involved in the Dutch Reach.
For the few (or perhaps more than few) out there who may refuse to make a change to their door-opening habits, usually, because old habits die hard, the Dutch Reach Project is pushing for legislation that will require the Dutch Reach to be taught in Driver’s Education classes. Further, it’s important to note that in most cases where injuries have occurred due to “dooring”, the driver is usually held responsible for the act, which results in penalties that may include fines, revoked or suspended licenses, and even jail time.
The Dutch Reach Project has had some success. The state of Massachusetts added the Dutch Reach as a countermeasure for preventing accidents in the 2017 edition of their Driver’s Manual. The hope remains that other states will follow suit, and the Dutch Reach will become a habit common to every car-owning household in the country. With that, and a little luck, there’s hope to bring the number of dooring accidents in various states down to 0, and make the streets safe for cyclists and drivers alike!