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The Highway Code, the basic driving manual for the United Kingdom, is to have a new instruction added which aims to offer more protection to vulnerable road users such as cyclists.

Known as the ‘Dutch Reach’, the new instruction ensures a safer method of opening a vehicle’s doors, ensuring greater observation opportunities, and therefore a safer method.

The technique originated in The Netherlands, and was in fact part of the driving test, forces vehicle occupants to turn as they open the door, which allows them to then look behind at the same time.

In order to practice the method, we basically open the vehicle’s doors using the opposite hand to where the door is. So, for example, if we are sat in the driving seat of a left-hand drive car as here in Spain, we will reach over to the door handle with our right arm.

As we do this, notice how your body turns. As our body turns we can then look forward as normal, checking the rear view mirror as our line of sight passes, and then look over our left shoulder through our ‘blind spot’, to make sure that it is safe to open the door before we do. Now, we have a greater opportunity to see cyclists which we may have missed, or other approaching vehicles of course.

The same process applies if we are sat in the passenger seat, on the right, although now we are using our left hand to open the door, and can look for other road users who may be approaching, including pedestrians.

Another benefit of this method is that the opening of the door is then also restricted by our movement, that is to say that if the door is caught by a gust of wind for example, then it will not blow open as easily, as our opposing arm length would restrict it.

When you are out in a car, irrespective of where you are sitting, front or back, left or right, please try the ‘Dutch Reach’ and make the roads a little safer for all.

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