The Highway Code – ‘Dutch Reach’ car opening method

keeping the cyclist safe

As of January 2022, a number of new changes went into effect aiming to improve the safety of more vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.

Statistics show that each year over 700 cyclists are injured by car doors, so the Highway Code recommends the ‘Dutch Reach’ technique when leaving vehicles.

As the name indicates, the ‘Dutch Reach’ originates from the Netherlands. It is a safety method encouraging vehicle drivers or passengers to open the door using their hand on the opposite side to the door they are opening. For example, using your left hand to open a door on your right-hand side.

The ‘Dutch Reach’ will make you turn your head to look over your shoulder before you open the door which reduces the chances to cause injury to passing cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians.

You will not be fined if you don’t use the ‘Dutch Reach’ unless you open your door and cause an injury to a passing cyclist, motorcyclist or pedestrian which is already an existing offence, known as ‘Car Dooring’.

Car dooring is illegal under the Road Traffic Act 1988 which states that “No person shall open, or cause or permit to be opened, any door of a vehicle on a road so as to injure or endanger any person”.

Read our factsheet to find some more details about the changes to the Highway Code.