‘Dutch Reach’: What It Is & Why It’s in the New Highway Code

by Brady Myles - 2 Min Read

In a bid to cut the number of cyclists injured or killed on our roads, the latest version of the Highway Code will now include details of the ‘Dutch Reach’.

The technique is designed to protect cyclists from riding into car doors opened by unobservant drivers or passengers. Instead of the driver opening the door with their right hand, risking not looking round before exiting the car, the ‘Dutch Reach’ sees the motorist using their left hand instead.

How the ‘Dutch Reach’ works:

• You pull up on the left hand side of the road and park

• You reach across your body with your left hand to grab the door handle

• As you turn your body, this movement instinctively makes you look at the side mirror before looking over your shoulder

• You check the road behind you for cyclists, pedestrians or other road users

• You open the car safely, fully aware of what is going on around and behind your car.

Avoid ‘Car Dooming’
This technique has been taught in the Netherlands for years to avoid cyclists and other road users from falling victim to opening car doors, incidents known as ‘car dooming’. In the full Dutch version though, the driver winds down their window, reaches out of the car with their right hand – because they drive on the left hand side of the road – and pulls the external handle to open the door.

The inclusion of the stripped-back, more practical UK version was announced by cycling and walking minister Jesse Norman who said, ‘the benefits of cycling and walking are enormous. We shouldn’t only concentrate on catching and punishing drivers when they make a mistake but try to ensure that they have the skills and knowledge to drive safely alongside cyclists in all conditions.”

If only one person is saved from Sam’s tragic fate because the driver or passenger has adopted the Dutch reach… then that’s a life worth saving.”

– Jeff Boulton, whose son Sam died after being hit by a taxi door in 2016.

Keep your distance
Plans to include minimum distances for drivers to safely overtake cyclists are also being considered for inclusion in the new Highway Code. Currently, the Code states that motorists should give at least as much room as they would when overtaking a car – but this was seen as too vague and open to interpretation by cyclist campaigners.

Instead, a 1.5-metre gap must be provided by the motorist and if they fail to do so, they could risk being fined £100 and receive three points on their licence. These new inclusions/considerations are aimed to drive down the the high rates of cyclists being killed on our roads; in 2017 alone, 101 were killed in road traffic collisions.

Know Your Highway Code

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Main image © Pixabay

Overtake image © West Midlands Police

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