That’s a turnaround: “Dutch reach” to become European standard

Stock photo agencies such as Depositphotos even have illustrations of how it works

The “Dutch reach” way of opening a car door will become the EU standard for drivers as part of new road safety legislation, the European parliament has decided.

The so-called Dutch reach involves opening the car door using the hand furthest from the door handle which means the person automatically turns around in their seat to spot oncoming cyclists.

Despite its name, the procedure is not yet part of the driving test in the Netherlands and whether or not the “Dutch reach” originated in the Netherlands, with its high number of cyclists, is also unclear. It is, however, the standard in Britain.

In fact, the term was probably first used in the United States after it had been spotted in this country. It currently even has a dedicated website.

According to some estimates, over 6% of all traffic accidents in the Netherlands involve cyclists slamming into car doors that open unexpectedly. No exact figures are available and the number is likely to be higher because often police are not involved and the incidents go unreported in all but the most serious cases.

The European parliament also voted to include driving in snowy conditions in driving tests and awareness of blind spots. There will also be a two-year probationary driving licence and stricter alcohol rules for inexperienced drivers.

But the parliament ignored European Commission wishes to bring in more restrictions for elderly drivers, saying this would interfere with their right to take part in economic and social life.

Some 20,000 people are killed in traffic each year and the package, which is yet to be approved by all 27 member states, is part of the European goal of zero fatalities by 2050.

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