Important driving technique that 95 per cent of Aussies don’t know

Aussie motorists like to think they are pretty skilled behind the wheel, but it turns out most don’t know this one simple driving technique.

A lot of Australian motorists like to think they are pretty knowledgeable when it comes to driving, but it seems there is one important skill the vast majority of people have never heard of.

New research released by Ford Australia found 95 per cent of Aussie drivers didn’t know about the “Dutch Reach”.

This revelation comes as Ford offers up its free Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) course once again as part of a push to help new and young drivers boost their skills behind the wheel.

This year the company is partnering with the Amy Gillett Foundation and focusing on how to safely share the road with cyclists — which is where the Dutch Reach comes in.

It’s a simple technique where a driver uses their far hand to open the car door. That forces drivers to look behind and check for cyclists as they reach over their body.

A young driver demonstrating the Dutch Reach technique.

This one small habit can drastically reduce the number of injuries cyclists suffer from being hit by people opening car doors.

In a survey of more than 1000 drivers, 95.5 per cent of respondents said they didn’t understand what the Dutch Reach was, with more than half also saying they are not confident sharing the road with cyclists.

Ford Australia and New Zealand CEO Kay Hart said the results showed there was a serious need for more education around skills that can improve cyclist safety.

“We know from our research that many drivers don’t feel confident driving around cyclists and that many cyclists are nervous being on the road with vehicles,” Ms Hart said.

“That’s why it’s so important to include a driver-cyclist safety component in DSFL this year.”

A surprising amount of drivers also weren’t aware of important road rules that were put in place to help protect cyclists.

Opening a car door without looking poses a major risk to cyclists.

Almost one third of people said they had never heard of the one-metre rule, a gap drivers are supposed to leave when passing cyclists. This gap increases to 1.5 metres when the speed limit is above 60km/h.

There were also drivers who chose to ignore the rule even though they knew about it, with only 53 per cent saying they followed the safe passing rule.

A massive 68 per cent of cyclists also said they were concerned every time a vehicle passed them on the road.

The DSFL course teaches skills to young drivers through techniques like VR simulations and the Ford impairment suit, which mimics the effects alcohol has on our bodies.

The latter aims to highlight to young people just how dangerous drink-driving is.

The impairment suit mimics the effects of alcohol on the body.

Amy Gillett Foundation Acting CEO Dr Marilyn Johnson said educating young and new drivers was a crucial step in making the road safe for all users.

“A major challenge is that useful and practical skills have not been included in driver training for generations of drivers on our roads,” she said.

“We need to help people learn ways to share our roads so that everyone can be safe riding a bike and improve the way we move, especially around our cities.

“We’re delighted to partner with Ford on this program to fill in the gaps in new driver training and help keep new drivers and vulnerable road users safe.”

733 Cycling Deaths in Australia Nationwide since 2000

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