State Driver’s Manuals – Add Dutch Reach

Add 'Dutch Reach' for Bike Friendlier State -Click LEAGUE'S Logo \/

League of American Bicyclists Logo, tri-foil wings emanate from hub of a spoked bicycle where. Full name of LAB arcs around it from "10 am to 5 pm" around the wheel..

MA RMV announcement of updates to 2017 Driver's Manual sent to Professional Driver Schools & Education Programs, 5/16/17.  It notes new section on Dooring Danger instructing use of Dutch Reach far hand method to look out for cyclists with a shoulder check before opening car door to exit.

Edited MA RMV announcement of 2017 Driver's Manual updates sent to Professional Driving Schools & Education Programs, 5/16/17. Click to enlarge.

2017 Driver's Manual: Dutch Reach Instruction - Commonwealth of Massachusetts, USA

Dutch Reach method to avoid endangering bicyclists is included in the Massachusetts 2017 drivers manual, with accompanying diagram, on page 109 under the heading: The Danger of Open Doors to Bicyclists.

Source: Massachusetts Driver's Manual, Revised 4/2017 [4.3 Mb, pdf]. Chapter 4: Rules of the Road:
The Danger of Open Doors to Bicyclists [p.109 only] Please note: The above reproduction is a png image. Use the linked documents for pdf & digital text copy. The diagram* is adapted from the Cambridge Street Code - Rules & Etiquette for Getting There Together (2016), p. 9. Credit: Marie Macchiarolo, graphic artist.


Links on Dutch Reach addition to Driver's Manual: What, Why & How

Flier for State & Local Official - Features Dutch Reach section in MA Driver's Manual.

See 5/30/17 Press Release by MassDOT announcing new emphasis on cyclist safety.

Links found  under:  Advocacy Toolkit > State Level Actions > State Driver’s Manuals...  > Far Hand is Safer ... > Sample Letter to DOT, Licensing...

Links on Dooring prevention & campaigns:  Advocacy Toolkit > International Activity.  Also:  Resources > Anti- Dooring Campaigns

Text "Reach, Turn Look...It's in the Book!" together with page 109 of Massachusetts 2017 Driver's Manual which teaches the Dutch Reach far hand anti- dooring method to prevent door crash injuries & fatalities of bicyclists, as in Chapter 4,: Rules of the Road.. page 109. To left of text is a color illustration of a boy opening car door using far hand anti- dooring method, looking back over his shoulder at an on-coming bicyclists, seen through the partly opened door. A small image of the cover of the Driver's Manual is superimposed on page 109 of text.

The 'Dutch Reach' far hand anti- dooring method - now in Massachusetts' official Driver's Manual, 2017 p. 109.

Teach Reach to All New Drivers -- Add to Driver's Manuals!

The Dutch Reach anti- dooring method is now included in the official Driver's Manual of an American state:  the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  It is the first to do so.   

Teaching and habituating beginner drivers to use their near hand when opening to exit is a major step forward for urban road safety. It forces drivers to turn, look in the side mirror and back for on-coming bicyclists and vehicles.  It heightens caution automatically.  Over time the far hand reach can become standard practice for more and more drivers.

Dooring injuries, deaths and damages are expected to decline as the Dutch Reach habit takes hold, sparing bicyclists primarily, but protecting drivers, passengers & other road users from heedless collisions as well.  

Anti- dooring measures in the US and many other countries have focused on "Look" campaigns, cyclist door zone avoidance, separated bike tracks & buffered lanes, stronger enforcement, new technology, etc.  Adding the 'missing far hand' to the solution mix is a significant behavioral countermeasure as it directly addresses the root cause of negligence: driver or passenger habitual failure to turn and look out and back.  The neare hand habit impedes making and maintaining a shoulder check, the far hand habit enables it. 

State Driver's Manuals are the basis of life-long driving practice.  

Once in the manual, the Reach will eventually enter driver education curricula.  License applicants with learner permits, driver education programs and instructors all rely on the state's driver's manual as their guide book.

Rules and laws of the road, proper and safe driving and parking practices, signaling, signage, infrastructure and driver responsibilities are all taught in the manual.  It is required study to obtain a drivers license.  In addition, state manuals are also the public reference guide to traffic enforcement, insurance penalty risk, and civil liability awareness for previously licensed motor vehicle operators.  

Once in the manual, bicycle and road sharing advocates can cite its authority in anti- dooring campaigns promoting the Dutch Reach and other safety measures.

This montage features Michelangelo's God from The Creation pointing to Massachusetts RMV Driver's Manual page 109 instructions for the Dutch Reach anti dooring method. Green 2017 Driver’s Manual cover which rests just above God's outreached arm. The Netherland’s far hand method is the safest way to open & exit cars, trucks, vehicles to protect cyclists from crashing into or hitting opened car doors. It the surest way for drivers & passengers to prevent dooring injuries, deaths & damages to bicyclists, or harm to themselves when stepping out into travel lanes, bike lanes or door zones.

Michelangelo's Creator instructs drivers on the Dutch Reach to save lives.

To avoid dooring bicyclists, Massachusetts RMV / DMV 's 2017 Driver's Manual now tells drivers to use the Dutch Reach method to see on-coming bikes.  It is the safest way to open & exit cars, trucks, vehicles to protect cyclists from crashing into or hitting opened car doors. In this montage, a mock-up of the headline to reporter Steve Annear's Sept 8, 2016 Boston Globe article titled "To avoid doorings, this cyclists wants drivers to do the 'Dutch Reach'“ has been revised. The headline now says that "ma", the abbreviation for Massachusetts – no longer just a "cyclist" [Michael Charney, founder of the Dutch Reach Project ] --  wants drivers to use the far hand method to prevent dooring injuries, deaths & damages.

Thank you Massachusetts RMV! - for inserting the Dutch Reach into the official 2017 state Driver Manual.

Amending the State Driver Manual - Why & How It Happened

The Dutch Reach Project proposed inclusion of the Reach in the Driver Manual to the Massachusetts RMV's Director of Licensing Steve Evans in the fall of 2016.  We provided supporting information and documentation to make the case.   All of which material -- and more such since -- may be found on this, the Project's website.  To assist efforts elsewhere, a selection of such materials are found below.


The obvious safety advantages of the far hand habit, in contrast to the near hand convention, were readily appreciated by Director Evans.  Historical and more recent precedents, examples of campaigns, expert endorsements, and the viral and enthusiastic 'discovery' of the Dutch Reach across the globe, were also presented.  

Early this year, Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Richard Fries, allied bicycle and road safety advocates and legislators also voiced support and established contact with the Licensing Division. A delegation subsequently met with  RMV officials in February and held a productive discussion about other road sharing issues deserving increased driver guidance.    

After internal review the decision was taken to recommend its inclusion pending necessary bureaucratic and practical considerations. In short order, funding to expand the manual for the Reach and other amendments was appropriated.  The Dutch Reach is now part of the Rules of the Road / Parking section of the 2017 MA Drivers Manual, on page 109.

The Dutch Reach amendment to the manual proved an easy 'ask'.  It met a ready reception at the RMV.  This request also set in motion the February meeting and a wider exchange of concerns.  That discussion has  now led to further road-sharing safety progress.   A new RMV driver training video on how to share the road with bicyclists and pedestrians was proposed and is now near completion.  It is expected to be released shortly.


*NOTE:  The diagram illustrating the manual's Dutch Reach text was adapted from the City of Cambridge, MA  pamphlet:  Cambridge Street Code - Rules & Etiquette for Getting There Together (2016) p.9.  It was produced for Cambridge Vision Zero.   Community Development Department, graphic artist Marie Macchiarolo designed the Code booklet including the Dutch Reach diagram.  Her graphic serves as the signature image for the Dutch Reach Project website & its twitter avatar.  A left-to-right flipped version was provided to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (UK) and illustrates RoSPA's February 2017 advisory approving the Dutch Reach.  The diagram is in the public domain for all to use. Crediting Ms. Macchiarolo and the City of Cambridge is a well-deserved courtesy!]

"To Avoid Doorings, cyclist.  wants drivers to do the 'Dutch Reach'. - Break through Boston Globe article by Steve Annear, Sept. 8, 2016,. It was the very first news story on the Dutch Reach effort and launched it nationally and ultimately internationally.

"To Avoid Doorings, cyclist..." - Break through Boston Globe article by Steve Annear, Sept. 8, 2016,. It was the very first news story on the Dutch Reach effort and launched it nationally and ultimately internationally.

Selected Source Material to Make the Case to Your State Licensing Officials [Under construction]

Exploring this website you can find a plethora of documents, graphics, videos, media reports and links to support inclusion of the Reach in your state's driver's manual.  In Massachusetts, the most difficult part was finding a who and how to contact the appropriate office and official who oversees driver licensing and keeps the manual current.  Once communicated, the method practically sold itself.  But substantive information and supportive materials must be provided

Here are useful links:

Dutch Reach Project


Sample Letter to Transportation Safety Officials:

This Dutch Reach Project's Sample Letter explains the method and anti-dooring need, and details 10 safety advantages of the far hand Reach method to the near hand's use.  The Letter requests consideration of the Dutch Reach for agency review, approval and promotion.  It is a rather dense letter written with transportation safety experts in mind, but adapt it as you will!

Prior professional or governmental approval and promotion of the far hand method:

The Netherlands

Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (UK) - Dutch Reach advisory (2017)

Commonwealth of Massachusetts, USA. - State Driver's Manual, Revised 4/2017, p. 109.

San Francisco, CA - LUVDS video at minute 14:30 ; New Haven, CT;  Chicago, IL - Flier; Fort Collins, CO - Bicycle Friendly Driver Program; Cambridge, MA - Cambridge Street Code, p. 9.; Somerville, MA - SBAC 2016 Annual Report, p 10 & photos at bottom.

VicRoads, State of Victoria, Australia - Safety Tips for Drivers & Passengers (2012) [nb: AU is a Left side of road country].


Road Safety Campaigns & Endorsements by Advocacy Groups:  

Une Porte Une Vie, Montreal, Ca; MassBike, contact Richard Fries, Exec. Dir., Boston Cyclists Union, Washington Area Bicycle Association, DC; League of American Bicyclists (LAB) - contact Ken McLeod, Policy Dir.; Vision Zero SF; We Are Cycling, UK;


Video demonstrations with Reach method included or featured;

Featuring the Dutch Reach:  in English / in Other languages

Including the far hand method:  San Francisco MTA's Large Urban Vehicle Driver Safety video [Reach at minute 14:30]; & Uber's Sharing the Road with Bicycles video for its San Francisco drivers. [Reach presented in first of four shorts.] The SF Bicycle Coalition consulted on both productions.

Instructive Graphics:


Miscellaneous media and prominent endorsements advancing the Reach method:





In countries where drivers drive on the right side of the road, and seated at the left side, use right hand to do the Dutch Reach for a safer exit.

Dutch Reach diagram US p9 Cambridge Street Code

Far hand to latch with reminder ribbon, with Dutch Reach icon.

Memory aide to help swap out old habit for new! Reach across with your far hand to latch to initiate Dutch Reach anti- dooring method.

Dutch Rebus - A graphic montage shows the Dutch far hand method to present dooring without need for words. Images include: a hand on a ribboned car door latch; a bicyclist approaching a parked car with a driver peering back to see using far hand on door; a drawing of a woman inside a car with far hand on latch and head turned back to look, & beneath all a diagram of a cyclist getting doored with a universal 'stop' or 'prevent' symbol of a circle with diagonal slash through it, in red over-laid

Dutch Rebus. One more advantage: It's universal. No translation needed! [Except swap right for left in some countries.]

Instructions to driver to check rear & side mirrors, then use far hand Dutch Reach to swivel and look back to look for on-coming traffic. In right hand column, bike lane & door zones are defined.

Dooring prevention & avoidance illustration from "Cambridge Street Code: Rules and Etiquette for Getting There Together", City of Cambridge, MA, USA, p. 9, (2016). [Design credit: Marie Macchiarolo, Cambridge Community Development; in public domain.]