Many drivers carelessly open car doors without checking for cyclists and other vulnerable road users. Between 2011-2015, eight people were tragically killed as a result of ‘car-dooring’, a figure that Cycling UK want to reduce by introducing the ‘Dutch reach’. In the Netherlands, the Dutch reach has been practised for over 50 years and is a mandatory part of the Dutch driving test. This safety measure would teach and train drivers to think carefully before opening their car doors and lower the number of accidents caused by car-dooring.
Cycling UK have approached transport minister Jesse Norman, writing to ask if the ‘Dutch reach’ technique can be taught to not only those who do drive, but those who don’t as well, in a bid to improve cyclist safety.
Paul Tuohy, Chief Executive at Cycling UK, said he “…wants to see greater awareness made about the dangers of opening your car door negligently, and people to be encouraged to look before they open”.
Creating awareness around the dangers of car-dooring will teach drivers to open their car door with the ‘wrong hand’, while carrying out required checks to ensure that it is safe to open their vehicle. Cycling UK is also urging the government to update the learner driving test, where the driver would be asked to carry out a safety car-door check as part of the test.
So, how will introducing the ‘Dutch reach’ improve cyclist safety? Motorists will have more time to check safely around their car by opening the door with the ‘wrong hand’, because this manoeuvre forces the driver to pivot and take in their surroundings.
Sam Jones from Cycling UK said: “We frequently cite our European neighbours as examples of what we would love to have here, in countries like Denmark or Holland, and it’s the little things like this that can make a difference”.
To reduce the number of accidents, the campaign group is also pushing for regular fines to be issued to motorists who put other road users at risk by uncaringly flinging their car doors open. If a motorist does open their car door carelessly, it is not only drivers who are liable, but passengers too, who could face fines up to £1,000 for imposing danger on cyclists.