Dutch Reach

Have you ever seen a cyclist swerve to miss being knocked over by a car door being opened? It happens very often in large cities that have bicycle traffic.

In many cities across the world, the ‘Dutch Reach’ has been or is being taught in driving schools as a way to ensure drivers or passengers check their blind spot before opening the car door.

The ‘Dutch Reach’ is a simple and effective way for people in cars to protect other road users and themselves by a simple method.

When you are exiting a parked vehicle as the driver or the passenger, the ‘Dutch Reach’ is about using the hand that is the furthest away from the door to open it. This makes you turn your head and upper body to get an unobstructed view of any road users approaching the vehicle from the rear. For example, cyclists, pedestrians, motorcycles, roller bladers, scooters, wheelchairs, etc.

In some metropolitan cities, the bicycle lane is between the parked cars and the curb, so this method works well for the passenger side of the vehicle.

Many people ask, how can I change my way of doing this after many years of driving? It takes practice and a lot of remembering to reach with the opposite hand. If a novice driver is being taught this way from the beginning, it will be an easier habit to implement.

The Ontario Highway Traffic Act states in section 165 (1), Opening of doors of motor vehicles – No person shall, (a) open the door of a motor vehicle on a highway without first taking due precautions to ensure that his or her act will not interfere with the movement of or endanger any other person or vehicle; or (b) leave a door of a motor vehicle on a highway open on the side of the vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than is necessary to load or unload passengers.  R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 165.

(2) Penalty – A person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not less than $300 and not more than $1,000. 2015, c. 14, s. 49.

Next time you exit your vehicle on a street or laneway, try using the ‘Dutch Reach’. This could prevent an accidental ‘dooring’ issue.