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What is the “Dutch Reach” and how can it protect you from injury?

If you regularly ride your bike along New York City streets, then you know what moving cars are always a potential threat. They can stop without warning, make sudden U-turns at intersections, and swerve into your path without signaling first. Cars can even pose a danger when they’re parked, thanks to “dooring.”

Dooring is an accident caused by drivers or passengers opening the doors of their parked vehicles into the path of an oncoming cyclist. In most cases, the cyclist has no warning, as window tinting or the sun’s glare makes it impossible to see into the car’s interior, so they can’t react in time to avoid a collision with the open door. Even if they manage to swerve at the last second, the action can send them into oncoming traffic.

According to the We Love Cycling website, dooring accidents accounted for the deaths of seven out of the 225 cyclists killed in New York City from 1996 to 2005. Even when someone isn’t killed, the impact of hitting the solid vehicle door can cause severe bruising, lacerations, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and even traumatic brain injury.

A technique called the “Dutch Reach” has been hailed as an effective way to mitigate these dangerous encounters between cars and cyclists. It requires drivers to open their door with the right hand instead of the left, which forces them to swivel in the seat and turn toward the side view mirror, enabling them to see any approaching cyclists.

The method has proven to be so effective that the Dutch Reach Project was founded to minimize the frequency of dooring accidents and memorialize a young nursing student named Amanda Phillips, who was killed in Cambridge, Massachusetts in June 2016. She had been riding her bike when she struck the open door of a parked Jeep and was thrown into the path of a landscape truck.

The Dutch Reach is presently being taught in some bicycle safety classes and training sessions for professional fleets, like taxi and limousine companies. Two states—Massachusetts and Illinois—now include it in their official motorists’ manuals.

Although New York has yet to follow suit, victims of dooring accidents can still be able to file a personal injury claim against the negligent party for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other losses. Inattention continues to be a problem: 35% of the respondents to one survey admitted that they don’t look before opening their car door.

If you are hurt because someone failed to observe reasonable safety precautions before opening their car door, then a the law office of Jayson Lutzky. Our office can help you pursue a claim. You may be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering as well as for medical bills and lost wages. Call 718-329-9500 to learn more.

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