03 January 2019 08:37
Möget ihr auch dieses Jahr alle die Räder auf der Straße lassen , ich wünsche euch allen ein Unfall freies Jahr !! 🍀🍀
48 participants, 13 countries, one experience: community members with a blue steering wheel learn about what's really important in tricky situations and what it means to be part of the RoadStars family.
Lukas and Vlastimil climb out of the white Actros. The last rays of sunshine are just disappearing behind the pine trees. "I could have carried on doing that forever," says Lukas, looking over to the track where Vlastimil and he have just been drifting – the crowning finish to an action-packed day.
Together with 46 other RoadStars, the two Czechs have been out and about since the early morning on the grounds of the Berlin-Brandenburg Driving Safety Centre. The participants from a total of thirteen countries had a lot of items on their list at the Driving Safety Training course: emergency braking, slalom courses, swerving on wet and dry roads, and driving with the "tipping trailer" were all on the agenda.
Eight hours earlier: the RoadStars bus stops in front of the main building of the Driving Safety Training Centre in Linthe near Potsdam. After chief instructor Thomas has welcomed the guests, the first teams head for the tractor units. On this icy cold Saturday, the RoadStars split up into four groups of twelve to experience the "Driving Safety Training PLUS" course conducted by Mercedes-Benz TruckTraining.
The central topic is how to handle a truck correctly in dangerous and tricky situations. All those things we all hope we won't have to deal with in everyday driving – here, the participants can practise them first-hand. The drivers come from Belgium, Denmark and Germany, Finland and the UK, Italy and the Netherlands, Poland, Austria and Romania, Sweden, Switzerland and the Czech Republic. All of them registered to participate in the event via the RoadStars platform and were picked at random. "When I heard I'd got a place, I could hardly believe it," says Hjarne, one of the four Danish participants. His normal work involves him driving his tipper truck around Aarhus to roadworks sites.
Here in Linthe in Brandenburg, Hjarne has just done an emergency stop on a soaking wet surface that is as slippery as a road covered with snow and slush. "At work I've never had to slam on the brakes so hard. It's really valuable being able to test that here. It's become really clear to me that keeping the right distance and the right speed is absolutely crucial," says Hjarne, on his way to the theoretical part which is now on the schedule for his group. The blocks of theory in the seminar room complement the practical exercises: what difference does a change in road surface make? What is the connection between speed and braking distance? How do the assistance and safety systems support the driver?
A drive on a winding section with a so-called "tipping trailer" demonstrates just how much the assistance systems support the driver. The trailer has been deliberately loaded so that it has a high centre of gravity. First, instructor Harald takes to the wheel. In the cab there are four RoadStars at a time as passengers. On the first trip, Harald keeps the electronic stability program (ESP) activated. Just to demonstrate, he keeps his foot on the accelerator pedal even on bends. The system detects the unstable situation, brakes automatically and adjusts the acceleration downward accordingly. It initiates an emergency stop in time. Then the second trip: Harald deactivates ESP using a switch next to the steering wheel.
In order to prevent the truck and trailer from actually tipping over, the semitrailer has stabiliser wheels, one on each side. And sure enough: with ESP deactivated, the outside stabiliser wheel touches the ground. Kel from the Netherlands is highly impressed: "It's amazing the difference the system makes." Then Kel himself gets behind the wheel, steering the Actros into the bend. Now ESP is activated again and keeps the vehicle safely on-track. "It feels unnatural staying on the accelerator pedal in this situation," says Kel as he gets out. "It's a unique experience, being in these borderline situations in person. I'll always keep that in mind when I'm driving."
Jenny drives the Actros tractor unit through the slalom course with full concentration. Instructor Wolfgang has just repeated over the radio: "Remember: hands at nine and three o'clock." Before they switched drivers, Carolina was driving. The two German women are professional drivers: Carolina drives a three-axle truck with swap bodies in the Stuttgart area and Jenny from Fulda drives a tractor unit with a semitrailer. "Every driver ought to do a training course like this once," says Carolina, while Jenny is steering round the pylons. Jenny nods in agreement. She's just mastered the slalom with confidence. "You really notice how the right seating position improves your control of the vehicle," says Jenny.
It becomes particularly clear how a truck behaves in borderline situations when the driver does an emergency stop and swerves at the same time. First on a wet road surface with water obstructions at 40 km/h and then on a dry surface at 80 km/h. The obstacle might only consist of pylons, but it is obvious that each driver strives to avoid touching any of them.
"It was a great group right from the start," says Hjarne from Denmark shortly before setting off for dinner in Berlin. Vlastimil the Czech has to agree. They both have RoadStars badges sewn to their work jackets. They are proud to be a part of the Europe-wide RoadStars community – a community that today has moved a little closer together again.
Were you there with us and now want to share your pictures with everyone else? Then get yourself over to the driving safety training wall right now!
Photo and video: Alexander Tempel