The Lifesaving Reason You Should Never Open Car Doors With Your Left Hand

February 11, 2017

Drivers all around the world are receiving an important lesson this week, courtesy of the citizens of the Netherlands. The warning? Never open your car door with your left hand when you’re in the driver’s seat.

The people of the Netherlands know what they’re talking about. The Dutch are known for many things, from the Great Horse Rescue of 2006 to their world-famous windmills and tulips. In the past few decades, they’ve also become famous for their bicycles.

People in the capital city of Amsterdam and throughout the Netherlands ride bicycles whenever possible. As a result, this small European country has some of the most advanced biking lanes, laws, and regulations in the world.

According to Woman’s Day, these biking regulations include something called the “Dutch reach.” This is a maneuver performed by drivers when exiting their vehicles. The natural instinct is to use your left hand, closest to the door, to open it. Dutch drivers always reach with their right.

Scroll through to learn why.

Car doors have the potential to be pretty dangerous.

In fact, 150,000 injuries every year are caused by car doors, mostly related to slamming fingers or toes in the gap.

Meanwhile, minor scrapes and accidents are caused all the time when drivers or passengers open their door into an adjacent vehicle.

Still, by far the most lethal danger posed by car doors involves bicyclists.

In fact, this type of collision is so common, it even has a name.

“Dooring” is an accident in which a biker crashes into the open door of a car.

According to some estimates, roughly 20 percent of all bicycle accidents are caused by dooring.

Usually, what happens is that a cyclist is moving quickly in a bike lane, and a car door opens suddenly in front of them.

The motorist isn’t aware of the cyclist, and the cyclist can’t stop in time to avoid the door. At least 24 cyclists have died this way, though there probably have been many more unreported cases.

So, where does your left hand come into all of this?

The Dutch reach, in which one uses the right hand instead of the left, was born out of the prevalence of bikers in the Netherlands.

If you use your left hand to open the door when you’re on the left-hand side of the car, you can easily open your door into oncoming traffic.

Conversely, if you reach across your body with your right hand to open the door, it forces you to turn your whole upper body.

This encourages you to look out the window automatically.

Even if you aren’t consciously checking for cyclists, you will notice any oncoming obstacles.

Of course, cyclists aren’t the only potential hazard.

Opening the door with your right hand can also protect other drivers and pedestrians from collisions with the car door. This simple switch can make a huge difference in safety!

If you want to spread the word about this basic safety tip, be sure to SHARE with friends and family.