Metro-East News

More than 250 new laws go into effect Jan. 1, so get ready to learn the ‘Dutch Reach’

Learn about the Dutch Reach

Among the new laws going into effect in Illinois on Jan. 1, 2019 is the requirement to teach the "Dutch Reach," a method of exiting a car by using your right hand to open the door, and turning your torso to see if anything is coming from behind you.
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Among the new laws going into effect in Illinois on Jan. 1, 2019 is the requirement to teach the "Dutch Reach," a method of exiting a car by using your right hand to open the door, and turning your torso to see if anything is coming from behind you.

When Belleville West High School teacher Todd Baltz was first told about the “Dutch Reach,” he thought his boss was joking.

But Baltz’s boss was serious, and the driver’s education and physical education teacher started to do research about the different way to open a car door from inside the vehicle.

The Dutch Reach technique requires a driver to not rely on mirrors and to twist his body around to see whether someone is coming from behind the car by reaching his hand farthest from the outside across his body to open the door, with his right hand instead of left.

This way of opening the door is called the Dutch Reach. It may sound “dirty,” but it gets its name from the Netherlands where the technique is taught in order to prevent motorists from hitting cyclists with their doors by having people keep an eye out for cyclists who may be riding from behind.

Under a new state law, the technique will have to be printed in the Rules of the Road publication distributed at Secretary of State offices, and questions about the Dutch Reach will be included on the written portion of the driver’s license exam.

“What we normally talk about is where the traffic is coming from that is the most danger to you, in this situation it would be coming from behind you,” Baltz said. “I think we can show them the difference between how it forces you to turn your body doing it the new way versus the old way. Hopefully kids can grasp the idea it is a little bit safer. It does give you a better view of what’s coming up behind you versus the standard, I guess we’ll call it, with people reaching with their hand closet to the door.”

The Dutch Reach can save bicyclists from being injured by car doors opening into them. Provided

Other new laws

In 2018 more than 250 new laws were passed in Illinois. Here are some notable laws that go into effect on Jan. 1 to know about:

Rear-facing seats for youngsters: Starting on Jan. 1, children who are under the age of 2 years old will have to be in rear-facing seats when in a vehicle.

“If it saves a life, it’s a worthwhile change. Buckle up and keep the kids safe,” Granite City Police said on its Facebook page earlier this year when discussing the new law.

Also under the Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act, children under the age of 8-years-old must be secured in an appropriate child restraint system.

There are exemptions in the law. The rules would not apply if a child weighs more than 40 pounds, is taller than 40 inches, or is traveling in a vehicle weighing more than 9,000 pounds, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Preparing for the worst: At least once a year, schools will need to have active shooter drills that are led by law enforcement. Students have to be present for the drills.

The drills need to take place within 90 days of the first day of the school year.

Educators and staff at Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic School in Collinsville participated in a intruder drill and workshop with members of the Illinois State Police.

New gun laws: Family members or police may ask a judge to order a person’s firearms be taken away temporarily if they believe the person is a threat.

The Lethal Violence Order of Protection Act, created a process where a family member who recognizes signs of potential violence in another family member can ask a court can have firearms temporarily taken away.

Also, when buying a firearm in the state, a person will have to wait 72-hours before completing the purchase. Previously when people were buying long guns such as shot guns or rifles, they only had to wait 24 hours. Handguns already had 72-hour waiting period.

The bills were among those proposed in 2018 in response to mass shootings across the country.

Fashion for hunters: In addition to wearing orange, people who are hunting may now wear pink in order to keep safe.

The bill was sponsored by state Reps. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithon, Monica Bristow, D-Godfrey, and Terri Bryant, R-Murphysboro.

State law requires hunters to wear blaze outerwear and caps for certain types of hunting, including firearm deer hunting. Proponents of the bill said pink can be easier to see in the woods, which makes it a safer option for hunters. Pink camoflauge has been popular for years with female hunters.

Pet safety: Police may take temporary custody of a dog or cat if they’re exposed to dangerous weather conditions, such as extreme heat or extreme cold, that could lead to injury or death.

After taking temporary custody of the dog or cat, the law enforcement officer would have to attempt to contact the owner of the animal and seek emergency veterinary care for the pet as soon as possible.

Nursing moms and jury duty: Moms who are nursing their child may now be excused from jury duty at their request.

Preventing sexual harassment: Companies that want to do business with state government, or companies in the EDGE tax credit program, need to have policies on how they address sexual harassment complaints.

The new protections come during a time when the #MeToo movement highlighting how common sexual harassment is in workplaces.

That message on Facebook: Unwanted messages sent via social media can now be considered stalking behavior, under a new law.

That same new law also allows businesses, schools and places of worship to seek no-contact orders against stalkers.

Gender neutral elected positions: So-long precinct committemen and chairmen. A new law makes references to elected offices gender neutral. So precinct committeman will now be called precinct committee person and chairman as chair.

Black history in post secondary education: Community colleges and other public institutions of higher education in Illinois will be required to to offer courses studying black history.

Longer school board oath: If you’re elected to a school board in the upcoming spring election, the oath of office will be six statements longer. The additional statements include: “I shall strive to ensure continuous assessment of student achievement, ... foster participation with the community, ... and work with a school district’s superintendent.”

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Joseph Bustos is the state affairs and politics reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat, where he strives to hold elected officials accountable and provide context to decisions they make. He has won multiple awards from the Illinois Press Association for coverage of sales tax referendums.