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The 'Dutch Reach' could saves lives: Use it

We've all heard about the tragedy of "dooring" accidents in the Chicago area. Last year, it was reported that these potentially fatal bicycle versus car accidents increased by 50 percent in Chicago.

However, if drivers learned and practiced the Dutch Reach maneuver, they could prevent these accidents from happening.

How the Dutch Reach works

Any driver can use this simple technique to save the life of a bicyclist. All that's required is for the driver to reach across his or her body with the right hand to open the door. First, drivers should reach across the front of their bodies with their right hand, and gently unhinge the door just a crack while turning the head to look behind and search for bicyclists. Once, the driver knows that the way is clear, the driver can fully open the door safely. Passengers can practice the same maneuver by reaching across their bodies with the opposite hand and looking for oncoming bicyclists.

Parents can teach their kids this move from an early age. The more Chicago residents who practice the Dutch Reach, the more catastrophic dooring accidents we can avoid.

As the name implies, residents of The Netherlands -- where the Dutch Reach is a legal requirement -- have enjoyed the accident preventing benefits of this technique for many years.

Boston has added the Dutch Reach to its driver's manual

In a proactive move that Chicago may want to emulate, the city of Boston added the Dutch Reach to its driver's manual last year.

Here's the full procedure motorists can use after parking their cars on the side of the road.

  1. Look in your rear-view mirror for cars or cyclists approaching from behind.
  2. Look in your side-view mirror for cars or cyclists approaching from behind.
  3. Open your door with the far hand and turn your body around with your hand to look directly behind you for cars or cyclists approaching from behind before opening the door.

Were you hurt in a dooring accident?

Bicyclists hurt in dooring accidents are probably not at fault for their injuries. Indeed, drivers are responsible to open their doors safely when the way is clear. When drivers fail to take the simple precaution of checking behind them before opening their doors, they are ineptly and negligently putting the lives of others in danger and they can be held financially liable for the injuries they cause.

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