Praise for MassDOT / RMV’s Dooring Prevention Lesson

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. Click image to enlarge.

Richard Fries, Executive Director, MassBike:

"We met with the RMV earlier this year and were pleased with their response and flexibility on the Dutch reach and other elements of bicycle safety. Both MassDOT and the Registry deserve praise for being able to amend the driver's manual every year," said Richard Fries, executive director of MassBike. "Given this experience MassBike plans to keep working with them to include more questions pertaining to bikes on the permit test, more stringent testing standards, and improving the curriculum of drivers' education."

Dutch Reach Project Lauds Driver's Manual Dooring Section

"This is an important safety measure for everyone -- not just bicyclists," said Dr. Michael Charney, founder of the Dutch Reach Project.  "The Dutch method protects all road users from heedless harm in the door zone. Teaching the Dutch Reach to student drivers -- and to all our children -- is the easiest way make this habit swap happen."  

"As the far hand method takes hold, hundreds of bike-car crashes and severe injuries will be prevented.  Lives will be spared by this simple move. Is it possible? The Dutch did it so so can we."  

Doorings account for 10 to 20% of  bicycle crashes in many cities across the globe.  Riding outside the door zone and putting in separated and protected bicycle lanes are necessary but not always feasible.  

But the root cause of dooring is driver and passenger error - made worse by our flawed near hand habit which blocks a good 'shoulder check.'  The Dutch Reach makes you swivel to look out and to the side. Then you can easily turn your head and look directly back before opening and while exiting: Reach, Turn, Look. Open slowly. If safe, exit facing traffic."

"Cycling is clearly on the rise in our dense cities.  But with miles of car parked streets, flung doors can be instant tragedy for cyclists."  A retired physician turned road safety advocate, Charney brought the decades old Dutch dooring solution to the attention of Mass. RMV's Director of Licensing Steve Evans after a young woman was doored and killed near his home in 2016.  

Charney coined the quirky name for this little known practice, and started the Dutch Reach Project to make it popular.  He hopes current drivers and passengers will make the switch too. "The DOT is already on to this. They've made a very sweet Dutch Reach teaching video, and are even tweeting to get folks to use it."

“It’s simple, it’s obvious, and it costs nothing. Just swap one thoughtless habit to another thoughtless habit — but the second one is much safer.”


For help getting getting the Dutch Reach method into your state's Driver's Manual, or adopted by you local town or city's transportation safety officials, see  under Advocacy Toolkit > State Level Actions > State Driver’s Manuals... Also: > Far Hand is Safer ... &: > Sample Letter to DOT, Licensing...

"...the Dutch Reach just made sense." - Director of Licensing, MassRMV


"People were getting hurt. So we needed to do something. And Dr. Charney contacted me, and his Dutch Reach was just so simple and so commonsensical. I said, absolutely, let's get it in the manual. Let's start the conversation." to NPR All Things Considered host Robert Siegel. [Listen]




Additional Comment

MassDOT has made a gentle and straightforward video to teach the Dutch Reach.   It instructs but it also shows how we can become much more careful and considerate sharing our streets.

The new MassRMV Driver’s Manual gives future drivers more guidance for safe driving around bicyclists.  Such early learning can go far to protect vulnerable cyclists and pedestrians from terrible harm.

I think I speak for many in the bike community in saying that we are pleased and encouraged to see MA DOT be so responsive.

The far hand advisory will help Bay State cities in their efforts to achieve zero traffic fatalities and many fewer injuries for everyone, active road users especially.

As cyclists, we are acutely aware of risk and hazards. We look forward to sharing more of our concerns and suggestions with Department officials, and together help make Massachusetts’ roads safer and friendlier for everyone.

-- Michael Charney, The Dutch Reach Project.



Front page diagram in the Boston Globe, 5/31/2017, A1, titled: A Safer Way to Open Up. Provides cut-away diagram of Dutch Reach anti dooring method which Mass. DOT now includes in 2017 Driver's Manual. Use of far hand to open prevents suddenly flung open doors, which can result in death or serious injury to bicycliests. Main story continues in Metro Section, B2, by Steve Annear.

Boston Globe, 5/31/2017, A1. A Safer Way to Open Up. Click image to enlarge. May 30, 2017 version; May 31 revision for Metro B2.