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Get the motorcycling season off to an accident-free start

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Motorcycling is becoming increasingly popular in Switzerland. One sign of this is the number of motorcycle registrations (+17.5% in 2020).  The warmer weather conditions are now also tempting many new motorcyclists to go out for a spin. This is not without its dangers: Most accidents happen at at the start of the season. AXA therefore advises even experienced riders to take a motorcycling training course in spring.

As soon as the weather starts to warm up, the Swiss get their motorcycles out of the basement and mark the season with their first tour. But caution is called for: Most accidents happen in spring. “At the beginning of the season in particular, motorcyclists have still not yet got back into the necessary routine – many overestimate their riding skills and are more likely to make mistakes, sometimes with serious consequences,” says Michael Pfäffli, Head of Accident Research & Prevention at AXA.

Now two years of riding experience

Starting this year, category A2 motorcyclists (no restriction) will have to show evidence of two years of motorcycling experience before they can get their license. To get around this regulation, many motorcycling enthusiasts bought themselves powerful machines last year: According to the Swiss Federal Statistical Office, a particularly large number of motorcycles were registered in 2020 compared to the previous year. What this means for this spring is that there will be even more inexperienced motorcyclists out and about on Swiss roads.

Motorcyclists suffer more bodily injuries

Motorcyclists are at significantly greater risk of having a serious accident than car drivers. In the early 1970s, the risk was around 14 times higher; today it’s 40 times higher (source: Swiss Council for Accident Prevention (BFU), German). According to AXA, the most frequent causes of all motorcycle collisions are riders overestimating their own abilities, a lack of motorcycling experience, and excessive risk-taking. The latest accident statistics show that the number of people seriously injured or killed has decreased (source: Swiss Council for Accident Prevention (BFU), German). Michael Pfäffli says the important thing now is that this downward trend should not be broken.

“Ideally people should have professional motorcycling training at the start of each season,” advises Michael Pfäffli. It’s not just young or new motorcyclists that benefit from such courses. They also help experienced riders to quickly and safely build on their skills from the previous year. After all, to be fully in control of a motorcycle you need not only experience, but also routine and confidence in your own abilities.

Cars are often to blame

But it’s not just up to motorcyclists; other road users also need to get used to motorbikes being back on the road in spring. “About two-thirds of collisions between cars and motorcycles are caused by cars, and in 54% of cases the fault lies entirely with the car driver. By contrast, only one third of collisions resulting in serious bodily injury are accidents for which a motorcyclist was solely to blame,” explains accident researcher Michael Pfäffli. 

People often fail to notice motorcyclists in traffic or misjudge their speed. So it’s advisable to wear high-visibility clothing, such as a yellow vest or belt. Motorcyclists’ crash helmets can also get them noticed more quickly by other road users; white or brightly colored helmets are a particularly good choice for being seen.

Tips for an accident-free motorcycling season from AXA’s Accident Research & Prevention:

  • Start the season with a motorcyclists’ training course. Not only are such courses enjoyable, but most importantly they will make you safer and more self-confident, helping you to handle tricky situations and avoid accidents.
  • Go out for short trips at the beginning of the season so you can get a better feel for how your motorcycle handles on the road.
  • Think ahead while out on the road and ride defensively and in a spirit of partnership.
  • Wear bright, high-visibility safety clothing.
  • Ensure that your motorcycle is technically sound and that your tires are in good condition.
  • Get fit for your first ride, because riding a motorcycle is physically demanding.
  • Adjust your speed to the road conditions and your own ability.
  • Always keep enough distance to other vehicles.
  • Are you traveling in a group? In a group there’s a particularly high risk of overestimating your abilities. Always ride at your own speed.
  • Stay calm and don’t get overexcited, even if the first ride of the season leaves you feeling particularly euphoric.

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