Have You Been Opening Your Car Door Wrong?

Last Updated: 01/01/2020

Experts in Australia have recommended that motorists use a new technique to open their car door and in doing so prevent accidents with cyclists.

After a spike in the number of accidents reported involving cyclists and car doors, industry commentators have advised that all motorists implement a method of opening their door known as the ‘Dutch Reach’.

Currently, pretty much wherever you go in the world, you will see motorists blindly opening their car doors into the road or pavement.

While many do check mirrors and blind spots before doing so, sadly a huge number do not.

This can be a recipe for disaster as far as cyclists are concerned who can be struck suddenly as they cycle past.

These types of accidents have been attributed to the death and serious injury all over the UK.

In Australia though, it’s become a serious issue.

Between 2011 and 2016, there were 177 reported deaths or serious injury to cyclists caused by these ‘doorings’.

Perhaps even more alarming is that during the same period, there were nearly 800 of these types of accidents reported.

They’re incredibly dangerous for several reasons.

Firstly, opening your car door at the point at which a cyclist is passing can cause serious impact injury to the cyclist.

Car doors are pretty solid and have sharp edges – opening in to an on-rushing cyclist who is travelling at speed can be catastrophic.

Even if the initial impact doesn’t cause injury, it can knock the cyclist off their bike and into the path of traffic.

Several deaths have been caused by this exact scenario.

To combat the problem, the ‘Dutch Reach’ has been suggested as a way of getting motorists to truly look before they open their car doors, taking the time to look for cyclists and other vehicles which pass.

What Is The ‘Dutch Reach’?

This new method of opening your car door is designed to get you looking at what is coming on the road behind you.

To perform the Dutch Reach, you should follow this simple set of instructions:

1)  Once your car is safely parked with the brake applied and the engine off, you should unbuckle your seatbelt.

2)  Open your car window.

3)  Next, using your hand that is furthest from the door handle, reach over and put your hand through the window to grasp the handle on the outside of the car door.

4)  By doing this, you are turning around and looking fully over your shoulder, allowing you to see what is coming along the side of the road. This check enables you to lookout for motorists.

5)  Finally, when it is clear to do so, open your car door.

Opening your car window and stretching your hand through may not be practical or possible for some people or certain scenarios, so you can modify it slightly.

Always use your hand furthest from the car door though so that you are beginning to turn and give yourself an opportunity to look for passing cyclists and vehicles.