Thanks to new state laws, the concept will now appear in Illinois and Massachusetts road safety manuals and could show up on driving tests in those states. (Great Britain will also add information on the Dutch reach in the next printed version of its highway code manual.)
The maneuver is specifically designed to prevent cyclists from getting “doored” — that is, hit by an opening door from a parked vehicle. That type of crash is common, especially where bike paths run along parked cars.
Reaching with the opposite hand forces exiting motorists to look over their road-side shoulder, which turns their head toward traffic and helps them see oncoming cyclists. Plus, using the far hand to open the door makes it harder to fling the door open and easier to quickly close it if a cyclist is approaching, says Michael Charney, an avid cyclist from Cambridge, Mass., who popularized the idea by coining the term “Dutch reach.”