‘Teach the Reach’ to Keep Bicyclists Safe

‘Teach the Reach’ to Keep Bicyclists Safe

‘Teach the Reach’ to Keep Bicyclists Safe

Your teen driver can learn the far hand reach in four easy steps.

For new teen drivers, properly parallel parking is one of the most difficult and intimidating skills to master (and one of the hardest to pronounce).

Street parking can also be one of the most frustrating things to teach and once your teen learns to park, the lesson isn’t over. There’s another habit your teen needs to know to keep bicyclists, pedestrians and themselves safe. It’s called the far hand reach and though it’s deceptively simple, it can be a lifesaver.

Picture this: Your teen parks on a busy street, turns off the vehicle and opens the door.


A bicyclist crashes straight into your teen’s open door, suffering serious injuries. Unlikely as this may seem, it’s a real risk. Thankfully, the far hand reach can prevent this danger and help your teen safely share the road, even after parking. Here’s how you can teach it in four easy steps.

  1. Reach with your far hand

    After parking, drivers instinctively reach for the door handle with their closest hand. Instead, the far hand reach has you, well, reach for the door handle with your other hand, the one further from the door.

  2. Check your mirror and over your shoulder

    Reaching with your far hand forces your body to turn, pointing your gaze toward the driver’s side mirror. This gives you the opportunity to look in your mirror and over your shoulder to see if anyone – a bicyclist, skateboarder, pedestrian or even another vehicle – is approaching.

  3. Wait for traffic to pass

    If the coast isn’t clear, it’s best to wait for traffic to pass. Even if there are no bicyclists nearby, other vehicles may be driving especially close to the parked cars. As a precaution, teach your teen to wait in the vehicle until the road is completely clear.

  4. Exit slowly

    Once your teen is ready to exit the vehicle, teach him or her to do so slowly, ensuring everyone around can see that they’re exiting. Not only does this help prevent your teen from creating a hazard for other road users, it will also serve as a reminder when he or she rides a bike.

‘Doorings’ and similar dangers can pop up at any moment, but expecting them and having a plan can help avoid this risk. Use a ribbon or other reminder on the door handle to help your teen remember the far hand reach and practice it yourself, as well, to set the example!


GM Foundation