New bicyclist and pedestrian safety messages, among others, added to Department of Licensing driver guides

We teamed up with DOL officials to update and improve safety messages

By Barbara LaBoe

We're always looking for new ways to talk about transportation safety, and our latest work with the state Department of Licensing is no exception.
While we don't conduct driver license tests, our agency worked with DOL to add several safety suggestions to the new version of the Washington
Driver Guide that debuted this month.

We don't teach or test potential drivers, but as atransportation agency we're certainly invested in improving safety for all travelers. So we were excited to work with DOL on their latest driver guide update to help spread some of our main messages to a whole new generation of travelers. (It also goes without saying that any existing licensed driver wanting to brush up on their knowledge and learn about new laws can explore the new guide as well.)
The "Dutch Reach" method of opening vehicle doors with your far hand helps exiting drivers and passengers see oncoming bicyclists or vehicles and was one of the additional safety items we suggested be added to the new driver guide.

The new Washington Driver Guide (pdf 2.56 mb) came out earlier this month. Paper copies are available at any state driver licensing office.

Some of the most noticeable updates we worked on are new and more robust sections about the safety of people walking or rolling (ie those who use bicycles or wheelchairs).

An example? A section has been added on the "Dutch Reach" for people exiting vehicles. The "Dutch Reach" – popularized in the Netherlands – entry advises drivers and passengers exiting vehicles to use their far hand to reach across their body and open the vehicle door. Reaching across causes a person to turn their body and helps them see any nearby bicyclists in the process. This also prevents drivers from opening vehicle doors too fast and helps prevent a passing driver from tearing off your vehicle door, the new guide states.

Several updates also were made to both the motorist, motorcyclist and bicyclist responsibility and rules sections – to ensure all travelers know the laws pertaining to themselves and others. The guide includes a number of expanded safety tips.

Safe travel for all modes of transportation – including people who walk or bike – is an ongoing mission at our agency and several others. Updating the driver guide is one more way to help increase awareness about this important issue and, hopefully, reduce the number of people injured or killed each year.

In addition to bicyclist and pedestrian safety, we also worked with the DOL on several other safety topics including:
  • Work Zone Safety
    • Letting drivers know that most work zone crashes are preventable because they're caused by speeding, following too closely ordistracted driving.
    • Reminding motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists that they must yield to any highway construction personnel, vehicles with flashing yellow lights, or equipment inside a highway construction or maintenance work zone.
  • Washington State Ferries
    • Adding details about how to safely approach ferry terminals, including how holding lines work, how to avoid cutting lines and specific regulations that apply.
  • Railroad Crossing Safety
    • Adding train safety information such as trains often can't be heard as they approach and that no one should ever try to outrun one. In addition, no one should ever go around activated crossing arms because trains can travel from either direction and another train could be approaching even after you see one pass.
    • Adding information about calling the Emergency Notification System number located on a blue sign or metal control box near each railroad crossing if your vehicle gets stuck on the tracks. This allows dispatchers to stop trains that are approaching and also dispatch emergency crews.
Whether you're studying for your first driver test or just want to check out what's new, please review the new driver guides and their wealth of information. The more we all know about how to stay safe during our travels the better.

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