Most Australians don’t put a lot of thought into the way they open the door of their vehicles. Many motorists in fact, probably wouldn’t even check their side-mirror before doing so. But a clever, if somewhat unorthodox, door-opening method is currently being spruiked around the world. And if it takes off Down Under, it could save lives.
The method, which is currently being promoted in the UK, is called the Dutch Reach, and involves a body contorting manoeuvre in which the motorist unwinds their window before opening the car door from the outside with their left hand. At a glance, this might seem like an odd way to exit your vehicle, but there is method to the madness.
By using your left hand and opening from the outside, you’re forced to turn your body around to face the traffic behind you. So, if there’s a van that’s edging a little too close to the curb or a cyclist coming up quick on the inside, you’ll notice.
Back in the mother country, Cycling UK is currently pushing hard for this method to be encouraged for and adopted by all motorists, with chief executive Paul Tuohy saying he, “wants to see greater awareness made about the dangers of opening your car door negligently, and people to be encouraged to look before they open”.
“Some people seem to see car-dooring as a bit of a joke, but it’s not and can have serious consequences,” Mr Tuohy adds.
In the Netherlands, where cycling is hugely popular, drivers are routinely instructed to open their doors with this quirky, body-turning method, as a way for motorists to get a better sense of the dangers lurking behind their vehicle.
VicRoads endorsed this method of door opening in a 2012 campaign. Figures from the motoring body show that between 2011 and 2016 there has been 771 car doorings involving bike riders, with 177 causing serious injuries and two causing fatalities.
So, while it might seem an odd way of opening your car door, it’s probably worth giving the Dutch Reach a go next time you’ve found yourself parked on a busy street. Who knows, this quirky door opening method might just save a life.