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Dutch Reach Recommended in the Highway Code in the United Kingdom

By Monica Buck

UPDATE: The Editorial team made the mistake of claiming that the Dutch Reach was actually made into a law. We apologise for this mistake. It wasn’t done on purpose and won’t happen again.

A new set of Highway Code changes came into effect on January 29 in the UK. One of the most important measures is probably the introduction of the “Dutch Reach” as a new Highway Code recommendation to better protect cyclists and pedestrians.

The Dutch Reach is a simple change of habit that allows you to open your motor vehicle doors safely. Instead of using the hand closest to the door, it requires you to reach across with the hand further away from the door. This naturally turns your body towards the window, helping you spot approaching cyclists (or pedestrians). If you’ve never tried it, be sure to do so – it really does work. It is standard in many countries across Europe and only takes a few days to make it a habit.

Roads Minister Baroness Vere said to the BBC: “I’m proud to say we have some of the safest roads in the world but I’m determined to make them safer still for everyone.

“These updates to the Highway Code will do just that by bringing the rules into the 21st century.”

As Cycling UK reports, over 500 people across England, Wales and Scotland were injured every year because the Dutch Reach was not used. And those were the injuries reported to the police. It is generally assumed that many more went unreported.

“We have been waiting for these changes since the last major change we had to the Highway Code back in 2006/7,” Roger Geffen, policy director at Cycling UK, told the BBC.

“The whole point of the review was to improve cycling and pedestrian safety, which are commonplace in continental countries.

“The ‘Dutch Reach’ is not a concept that British people are used to but it is about time it became well-known and it’s not a hard habit to learn.

“If people do it a few times then, hopefully, it could save someone’s life.”