Dutch Law & Culture

FAQ’s about the Reach in the Netherlands


Written questions were posed by the Dutch Reach Project by email to a transport professional at CROW.NL  He had previously spoken to a class at the Harvard School of Public Health regarding the Netherlands' accomplishments in fostering a safe road sharing environment for pedestrians, bicyclists and motor vehicle users.

  1. Is Reach use in practice actually widespread in the Netherlands?
    Yes, this is the way it is taught to all driving pupils and it is tested at the exams.
  1. Besides drivers manuals and training, is it also taught to school children, the passenger public? How and by whom? 
    No, Normally parents have their children get out of the car at the right hand side and if this is not possible, they let their children only out of the car at the left hand side, if they have ensured that this is possible safely. The passenger public also tend to get out of the car at the right when parking alongside the road.
  1.  Does it work: Are there studies which confirm its value?  
    We don’t know, there is no study because it has never been done any other way.
  1. Has it ever been deliberately introduced to a naive culture outside of The Netherlands?  Has that been a success?
    No idea, but I get the impression that in countries like Denmark and Germany it is done in the same way.
  1. In NL, are there Reach teaching materials?  
    There are several You Tubes like :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHUh8NCbv_k
  1. What other people, organizations or agencies are identified and involved with this practice?
    You might contact SWOV 
  1. Do the Dutch refer to the Reach by a specific term or descriptor, motto, or slogan? 
    No. This is just common practice and there is actually no need to promote this in any special way. There will be some new activities this and next year because there are still some dooring incidents.
  1. Does it have a known or mythic history or actual inventor? 
    No. We consider this just as common sense and if I ask people around me about this, the common reaction is: are we doing anything special? It is just as common as that nobody will try to park the car on the middle of the road. The big difference between the USA and the Netherlands is, that in the Netherlands the chances are more than half that you hit a bicycle when recklessly opening the door of the car.

Note:  Above is edited response to an inquiry by M. Charney Aug. 2016. 
For information, contact www.DutchReach.org useContact.                           v2 092416,now v2.1 020917

Official Status & Practice of Far Hand Reach for Safe Exiting of Vehicles in NL

A Dutch transportation & traffic professional now at CROW.NL explains:

First and for all I have to tell you, that cycling and the way we treat bicyclists just plain common practice, which we don’t consider anything special.

The right-handed reach-to-open method used by Dutch drivers, has been done this way for at least 50 years.  It has no specific ‘inventor’ or origin story, but emerged in this bike-friendly country as our preferred commonsense practice.

In time, safe exiting became a formal driver teaching and licensing exam requirement by state authority.  Presently, there are two rules that are specific about opening vehicle doors. See:  http://wetten.overheid.nl/BWBR0015600/2013-12-31 

Article 4 e says: het permanent rekening te houden met (mogelijke) andere weggebruikers, in het bijzonder kwetsbare weggebruikers als voetgangers, fietsers e.d; (translated: to take permanently into consideration (possible) other road users, special vulnerable road users such as pedestrians,bicyclists, etc.)

And Article 6a says that you are specific tested on: het op juiste en veilige wijze in- of uitstappen; (translated: getting in and out of the car in a safe way)

On the website about car driving instruction the method for safe exiting is specified.  [See:   http://www.autorij-instructie.nl/2010/02/handelen-de-lesauto-instappen-en-uitstappen/    ]

This way of getting out of the car is the standard in driving instruction:

Handelen bij uitstappen en weglopen van de auto:

  1. pak de handgreep van het portier vast met je linker hand. Houd de handgreep vast zodat losrukken door de wind later bij het ontgrendelen (3) voorkomen wordt
  2. kijk vóór de auto, in de binnenspiegel, de linker buitenspiegel en over je linker schouder om te oordelen of je veilig en zonder het overige verkeer te hinderen uit kunt stappen
  3. ontgrendel het portier met de rechterhand, terwijl je de deurgreep met links blijft vasthouden Door deze volgorde aan te houden bevorder je een juist kijkgedrag. Je lichaam moet je op deze wijze al een kwart naar links draaien, waardoor het kijken over je linkerschouder en naast de auto een automatisme wordt


  1. Grab the grip/hold of the door with your left hand. Hold the handle in order to prevent tugging the door by the wind when unlocking
  2. Look in front of the car, in the inside mirror, the left outside mirror and over your left shoulder if yoy can get off the car without disturbing th eother traffic
  3. Unlock the door with your RIGHT HAND, holding the doorgrip with your left hand. By following this sequence you encourage the correct way of watching. Your body should make a quart turn, ensuring that looking over your left shoulder alongside the car becomes an automism

Note:  Above is edited response to an inquiry by M. Charney Aug. 2016.  For information, contact www.DutchReach.org using Contact.                           v2 092416 rev. v2.1 020917







*Volunteer help to translate was needed...
Now a volunteer from somewhere on the planet has stepped up and done the work!  This is truly a grassroots campaign.


Below is the translated text, 

Exiting a car

When exiting a car it’s important to prevent dangerous and hindering situations for yourself and other road users. In this tutorial, you will learn how to exit your car safely. At the end of your driver’s exam you might be asked to exit the car and wait inside the driver’s center to find out whether you passed. This is done to observe how you exit the car and whether you’ll adhere to safety guidelines.

Pay attention, because you could fail your driver’s exam if you don’t!

We will now show you step-by-step how to exit a car safely.

Exiting the car
Step 1
Remove the key from ignition and fold it up, if possible.

Step 2
Look in front of the car, in the inside mirror, the left outside mirror and over your left shoulder!

Step 3
If there’s no oncoming traffic, firmly grab the door handle with your left hand to prevent losing your grip on the door by the wind when opening it.

Step 4
Wait until there is no traffic before you press the button to fold in the outside mirrors.

Step 5
Unlock the door with your right hand!

Step 6
After closing the door, you head into the direction of oncoming traffic to walk to the sidewalk.

Step 7
Once you’ve safely reached the sidewalk, you can lock the car doors with one press on the key(fob).


Translation most kindly provided by Femke Zeilstra  (11 February, 2017).

Official Status & Practice of the "Dutch Reach' in the Netherlands

FAQ's About the Dutch Method for Safe Car Door Opening, aka the "Dutch Reach"