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With new road safety measures for all road users on the horizon, Associate Solicitor Chris Bowman looks at how to perform the ‘Dutch Reach’ – a method of opening your car door which reduces risk to passing road users.  


After consultation with motoring and other road user organisations, the Highway Code is being updated with new rules coming into force on January 29th. My colleague, David Sears, has provided a helpful summary of the changes which you can find here. 


The new rules focus on vulnerable road users, those people who are likely to suffer the most harm when involved in an accident, such as pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists.  

It is already the case, in Civil Law, that drivers of larger motor vehicles are expected to take greater care, given the greater damage they can do in accidents. The new rules now formally reflect this, creating a hierarchy of road users with those who can do the greatest harm having the greatest responsibility to reduce danger to others. 


Among other changes the new rules advise motorists to use the “Dutch reach”- something you may = never have heard of. With this technique the driver or passenger opens the door of their vehicle using the hand furthest away from the door – naturally causing the person to turn their body towards the window, making it easier to see riders and other road users approaching. 


The Dutch reach was adopted by the Dutch back in the 70’s and it’s disappointing it has taken nearly 50 years for the UK to catch up.  

Seeing it introduced this year reflects the increasing popularity of cycling in the UK and any practical measure to improve safety is to be welcomed. 


Hopefully, this will reduce incidents of so called so called “dooring,” where a driver or passenger in a vehicle opens a car door into the path of a cyclist or motorcyclist. According to Government statistics, dooring causes injuries to approximately 700 cyclists and causes 2 fatalities per year. 


It is worrying that there has been little publicity and public education about this new advice.  

In 2021 of 10,000 people surveyed by the IAM a huge 85% were unaware of what the Dutch Reach was. 


I recommend everyone start giving the Dutch Reach a go and pass what you have learnt onto your friends and family.