The majority of drivers do not know what the ‘Dutch Reach’ is a year after the Government pledged to update the Highway Code to include the technique.
But, once they have had the door-opening technique explained to them, the majority (62%) think it should be taught in all driving lessons and half think it should be added to the Highway Code. The Government is expected to include it in a series of updates in 2020 designed to reduce the number of ‘car-dooring’ incidents, such as this infamous example from the then Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.
Department for Transport figures showed between 2011 and 2015 a total of eight people died and 3,108 were injured as a result of these incidents.
The AA Charitable Trust, as part of its ongoing Think Bikes campaign, asked members of the AA/Populus panel about the Dutch Reach.
Drivers in London were generally the most supportive of the Dutch Reach – likely to be a reflection of the number of cyclists in the city. Londoners were the most likely (68%) to say the Dutch Reach should be taught in all driving lessons, drivers in Yorkshire and Humberside were the least (57%).
Female drivers were considerably more likely to say they had not heard of the Dutch Reach than male drivers (71% compared to 58%), but they were more likely to agree, once they knew what it was, that it should be taught in all driving lessons (65% compared to 60%).
Edmund King, Director of the AA Charitable Trust, said: “Harmony between different road users should be the goal for everyone.
“It’s making a simple change to the way you open a car door can have a significant impact on the safety of those on two wheels. We already teach all our AA and BSM driving instructors this technique and hope others will also adopt it.
“Using the Dutch Reach is straightforward – simply open your car door with the hand that is furthest from the door. It will force you to turn, enabling you to very quickly check if a cyclist or motorcyclist is approaching.
“It’s really just down to habit – and it’s a habit we should be trying to adopt. Putting it into the Highway Code will help to get it into the minds of car drivers and passengers.”
The AA Driving Schooland BSM both include the Dutch Reach in their driving instructor training.
Sarah Rees, managing director of AA Driving School, said: “Driving instructors’ unique position means they can help improve road safety for everyone by shaping the skills and behaviours of new drivers.
“By ensuring we train them to deliver the most up-to-date techniques, we can be sure they are passing their expert knowledge on to pupils.
“Using the ‘Dutch Reach’ is a great way for drivers and passengers to reduce the risk to those on two wheels.”
The AA Charitable Trust has 18,000 sheets of Think Bike stickers available. These small stickers can be used by drivers as a visual reminder to look twice for cyclists and motorbikes. They can be placed either on the driver's wing mirror or on the inside of the driver's door.
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