Defensive driving is essential for bikers

Now they’re back on the country roads: Motorcyclists who use the first warmer days to indulge in their hobby. In the spring weeks, however, there are usually particularly many accidents.

Kirchheim. “What matters is consideration,” says Fritz Mehl, spokesman for the Esslingen police department. This applies to bikers as well as car and truck drivers, who now have to share the road with cyclists again.

As expected, the main hazards are alpine pastures and winding routes such as those between Kirchheim and Wernau. At the beginning of April, the first serious accident in which a motorcyclist died on site occurred on the national road 1207 in the Esslingen district. In the Göppingen district, three motorcyclists were injured, some of them seriously, in accidents last weekend. On Thursday, a 20-year-old biker crashed into a crash barrier on the Grabenstetter Steige and had to be taken to hospital in an ambulance.

In some cases, the police are forced to apply the emergency brake: Since the mid-1980s the Neuffener Steige has been closed to motorcycles. Other times, a fine or defensive driving course will be imposed on the victims and suspects of the incidents. At the Pfulb curve near Schopfloch, which used to be an accident centre, all road users now have to slow down to 50 kilometres per hour.

Asked about behavioural tips, Fritz Mehl refers to a leaflet from the Ministry of the Interior of Baden-Württemberg. At www.gib-acht-im-verkehr.de, bikers can find lots of advice on the Internet, for example on driving in a group, dealing with dangerous situations and the right protective clothing.

“At the beginning of the season the handling of the two-wheelers starts again from the beginning for all road users”, emphasises Harry Kellner, Head of Automotive Technology at ADAC Stuttgart. He is also thinking of agricultural vehicles, which are particularly slow on the road, and with which serious collisions occur time and again. Especially when the motorcycle is taken out of the garage after several months, Kellner advises to gradually get used to the machine again. “Then you shouldn’t take tours of 200 or 300 kilometers, but make smaller trips.” The ADAC expert considers it particularly important to regain a sense of balance and to get a feeling for braking and cornering. He explains that most accidents happen right at the front door between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. by a decrease in concentration. The be-all and end-all for waiters is a defensive driving style. Even a passionate biker and declared fair-weather rider, he walks into a safe position before every intersection and every exit. “Motorcyclists just don’t have a crumple zone.” Drivers, on the other hand, would often underestimate bikers’ ability to accelerate.

In addition to prudent behaviour, Kellner refers to the safety equipment of motorcycles and riders. “We demand from the industry the continuous installation of anti-lock braking systems.” Since many drivers also use lights during the day, the ADAC man advises bikers to wear clothing that is equipped with reflectors so that other road users can see them better. In the early morning hours, a cautious driving style is advisable, especially on bridges and in wooded areas: “It can still be really slippery there at the moment”. The long winter has also left its mark: “Rollsplit and more potholes than ever before can be fatal for motorcyclists”.

In 2009, 335 633 vehicles were registered in the district, 26 755 of which were motorcycles. The number of road accidents involving motorised two-wheelers rose slightly. In 2008 there were 358 accidents, in 2009 there were 367. 2 motorcyclists were killed last year, compared to 5 the year before. 85 cyclists suffered severe, 192 minor injuries in 2009. In 2008 there were 73 severely injured and 179 slightly injured.

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