The Dutch Reach – How to Safely Exit a Vehicle

Bicycle accidents happen often in Missouri and Kansas – especially in a bustling city like Kansas City. While most of these accidents are bicycle-vehicle collisions, some take other forms, such as dooring. Dooring is a serious type of bicycle accident in which the cyclist collides with a car door after a driver or passenger unexpectedly opens it into the road or bicycle lane. Dooring can cause serious bicyclist injuries, including traumatic brain injuries. A maneuver called the Dutch Reach can help prevent dooring accidents.

The Dutch Reach Helps Minimize Dooring

The Dutch Reach is a method that promotes bicyclist and road safety by helping to prevent dooring accidents. In 2018 alone, 857 bicyclists around the US died in bicycle accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Many serious and even fatal bicyclist injuries arise from dooring accidents. This is a specific type of bicycle crash involving a cyclist riding in bike lanes and crashing into car doors. Dooring can also refer to a no-contact crash, in which a bicyclist swerves into the road and crashes to avoid a suddenly open door. Although awareness by bicyclists about the risks of dooring can help prevent these collisions, it is a driver’s responsibility to pay attention and watch for bikers before swinging a car door open. The proper procedure for door opening in a place where there could be bicyclists is the Dutch Reach Method.

The Dutch Reach, also called the far hand method, is the advised solution for drivers who wish to avoid dooring oncoming cyclists. All drivers should learn the Dutch Reach and spread it to help minimize dooring. The Dutch Reach has two main aspects: the reach and the swivel. It instructs drivers and passengers to always use the far hand to open a vehicle’s door handle. This forces the person to swivel to face the window to open the door. When the occupant swivels, he or she should look outside the car, check the mirror and look behind the vehicle for oncoming cyclists. If a biker is coming, the driver should wait to open the car door. If the way is clear, the driver should proceed to open the door slowly.

Help Minimize Personal Injuries & Bike Accidents Caused by Dooring

By implementing this approach, the far hand reach can help prevent serious injuries and increase road safety to vulnerable road users. When you are out and about in Kansas City or somewhere else with a lot of bicyclists, always reach over to open your door with the far hand. Check for bikers before slowly cracking your door open and exiting the car. Vehicle doors opening this way instead of blindly swinging a door open into the road could prevent serious injuries related to dooring accidents.

  • Head trauma and skull fractures
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Concussions
  • Contusions
  • Bumps, bruises and cuts
  • Broken bones
  • Muscle injuries
  • Road rash

If dooring causes a bicyclist to unexpectedly enter the road, an oncoming vehicle could strike or run over the victim, causing catastrophic to fatal personal injuries. Dooring accidents can be painful, expensive and inconvenient for an injured bicyclist. It could also negatively affect you by increasing your insurance rates if the bicyclist files a claim. If you do not have adequate car insurance, you may owe the injured biker compensation out of pocket. Do your part to minimize dooring accidents and prevent personal injuries by practicing the Dutch Reach.

Other Ways to Protect Bikers in Kansas City

Prevent other types of bicycle accidents by always paying attention to the road and obeying state roadway rules. Yield the right-of-way to bicyclists, when necessary. Use your turn signals and keep your actions predictable for surrounding bikers and pedestrians. Do not tailgate a bicyclist or pass too closely. Respect bicyclists as you would other motor vehicle drivers. They have the same rights to the road as you do. Spread the Dutch Reach technique to friends and family to help prevent dooring accidents in your community.