Driving tests

What’s the Dutch Reach and is it safe?

Cars and trucks have blind spots that aren’t covered by the mirrors. When you open your car door, it can be a hazard to cyclists, scooter riders, motorcyclists and pedestrians. So, how do you ensure that you’ve seen anyone approaching, especially if they are small and travelling close to the edge of the road?

Holland has promoted a method of opening the door called the Dutch Reach for five decades. Rather than opening the door with the hand nearest (which is what we usually do), you turn your body and open it with your opposite hand. This gives you a better view behind you. So, when your vehicle has a steering wheel on the right, you’ll open the driver’s door with your left hand.

Passengers should open the passenger door with their right hand to avoid opening the door in front of joggers, kids on scooters and so on.

In both cases, it’s best practice to check the wing mirror, turn and look, open the door slightly, then take another look before opening the door carefully. Opening the door slightly reduces the blind spot of the B-pillar.

It might not be possible sometimes to do this – if you’re pregnant or you’re not physically able for some reason, for example.

Darren is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and the NZ Motoring Writers' Guild

Posted in Advice
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