Dutch Reach – a change of habit to protect vulnerable road users
Dutch Reach is a simple yet effective technique to prevent “dooring” – a dreaded and all too common crash, caused when people exiting a vehicle suddenly open a door into the path of a cyclist, or other vulnerable road user.
As active travel increases, safer interaction between cars and bicycles is reliant on co-operation and a greater awareness from drivers regarding the presence of less protected road users. Partners in Road Safety Wales are promoting the Dutch Reach, asking drivers and passengers to get into the habit of reaching across to the vehicle’s door with their far hand to open it.
Teresa Ciano, Chair of Road Safety Wales, explains the technique, “When exiting a vehicle using the Dutch Reach, check your mirrors and reach for the door handle with the hand that is furthest from the door.
“Your upper body will swivel, allowing you to check over your shoulder to the side and rear.
“Opening the door slightly and checking again before exiting the vehicle will greatly reduce the risk of coming into contact with a passing cyclist.”
Doorings are almost always due to motorist error, having failed to see the approaching cyclist or other vulnerable road user.
Michelle Harrington, Road Safety Manager for RoSPA in Wales said, “In many scenarios it is very difficult for cyclists to totally avoid travelling within the door zone, the area near parked vehicles which puts them at greater risk of dooring.
“A vehicle door suddenly being opened into the path of a cyclist is a frightening experience which too frequently results in collisions and avoidance manoeuvres, such as swerving or braking, which can cause injuries or even fatalities.”
The slower and cautious door opening technique reduces the likelihood of not seeing an approaching cyclist and also provides the time and space for the collision to be avoided.
Teresa Ciano, called for road users in Wales to use the Dutch Reach every time they exit a vehicle, “This simple change of habit has the potential to prevent collisions. Please use the technique, tell your friends and family and to help to spread the word by sharing messages from Road Safety Wales partners.”
For more information on the Dutch Reach and its impact on casualty reduction around the world, please visit www.dutchreach.org.uk. For vehicle safety checks and advice please click here.