2017 Driver's Manual: Dutch Reach Instruction - Commonwealth of Massachusetts, USA
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.
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.
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!]
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
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:
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;
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.
Miscellaneous media and prominent endorsements advancing the Reach method: