Chicagoans who take the eco-friendly approach to transportation by bicycling face daily dangers on busy downtown roads. Cyclists must be especially wary of drivers who suddenly open their doors after parking, without properly checking the oncoming traffic. Beginning January 2019, Illinois has taken a major step into preventing such door crashes by implementing the Dutch Reach into law. It is the 2nd state in the U.S. to implement the method, in hopes of raising awareness of cyclists on shared roads, and reducing door crashes.
The Dutch Reach, so called because of the practice’s origins in the Netherlands, is the method for drivers and passengers to open their car doors using their far hand. By moving your arm across your body, it forces you to twist and face the road behind you, making you vigilant to oncoming traffic.
The passed legislation adds the Dutch Reach to the Rules of the Road handbook that is issued to students and drivers in Illinois. RideIllinois, a nonprofit organization that advocates for cyclists in Illinois, has worked with the Secretary of State to include questions about the Dutch Reach in the driver’s license test. New drivers, along with those renewing their licenses and other adults getting their licenses for the first time, will have to study up on the method in order to pass both the written test and driving test.
While new drivers will be trained from the beginning to use the Dutch Reach, experienced drivers may find themselves struggling to change their current habits. The longstanding practice of checking the side mirror before opening a street-facing car door with one’s left hand, or not checking the mirrors at all, however, are potentially deadly habits. Illinois’s new bill is one way of putting the spotlight on the driver’s role in cyclist safety.
The attorneys at Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. encourage implementing the new law into your everyday routine and spreading awareness to your friends and family. For a refresher course in driving safety, the new guidelines for the Dutch Reach can be found on page 42 of the 2018 Illinois Rules of the Road. For other issues, the attorneys at Zneimer & Zneimer can answer your questions about accidents, the law, and what you can do to stay safe.
2018 Illinois Rules of the Road Handbook