India’s roads are some of the most crowded in the world, and the nation’s road manners are not what you would call the best. This may just be because of the fact that most motorists don’t receive basic mandatory training for what many consider to be simple actions, such as opening of car doors. Training to open doors? While this may leave quite a few of you scratching your heads, there is a proper way to open doors safely, especially in traffic-infested streets, where cars and bikes are almost always whizzing past parked vehicles at close quarters. This technique for opening doors safely in crowded areas is called the ‘Dutch Reach’. Here are two examples, one of which is from India, which highlight why you should undergo training to open your car doors properly.
What Happened here?
In this video, a trio on a motorcycle crash into the opening door of a Maruti 800. Because the driver opened the door all of a sudden, the riders had no time to react. The bike slams into the Maruti’s door and the rider loses control sending the trio on the bike under the wheels of an oncoming truck. All three men were not wearing helmets.
What happened here?
This video comes from the land of the rising sun, Japan. Like the previous video, in this one too a person on a two-wheeler, in this case a scooter, is riding past cars parked on the right side. However, as he tries to pass a BMW, the driver of the car unexpectedly opens the door, causing the scooter to crash into it and forcing the rider off his bike. Thankfully, the scooterist seems to be alright. However, as the driver of the BMW helps lift up the scooter, he manages to engage the throttle, causing the riderless bike to wheelie off onto the back of another parked car.
Can such accidents be avoided?
Yes! While the first accident had tragic consequences and the second one ended in hilarity, both of these unfortunate mishaps could have been avoided if the person getting out of the car checks the rear view window for any traffic rushing by before opening the door.
Car and SUV owners can make use of a technique called the ‘Dutch Reach’ which promotes the safe opening of vehicle doors. This technique that originated in Netherlands been adopted by many other countries as part of their driver training programs.
So what is the Dutch Reach technique?
The Dutch Reach technique calls for people to use the hand that is the furthest away from the door handle to open said door. So in India, a driver practising the Dutch Reach technique has to open the door with his left hand when opening the car from the inside.
How does the Dutch Reach help prevent accidents?
By using the Dutch Reach technique to open the door from the inside, you turn your body so that you’re nearly facing the rear while exiting the car. This allows people inside the car to peer through the rear windshield and the side windows at oncoming traffic, allowing them to spot any vehicles or pedestrians coming from behind. This method ensures that the person exiting the vehicle does not do so if there is any chance of endangering others on the road, especially those on two-wheelers.