There have been crazy temperatures forecast for the coming weeks and some newspapers have mentioned temperatures as low as minus fifteen degrees. This could come as quite a shock to most of us, but it’s not just the cold we need to worry about for our own sakes. Many motorhome owners find cold winters particularly difficult to get through and motorhomes can easily be affected by the cold.
One serious problem is the effects of freeze-thaw on pipes and water tanks. Though it’s possible to add anti-freeze to piping that doesn’t affect the drinking water supply, this isn’t a pleasant option for motorhomes with large water tanks. The only real way to prevent freeze-thaw on a water tank is to drain it before putting the motorhome into storage and owners have been strongly recommended to drain out tanks before the weekend.
Equally, one common reason for motorhome insurance claims that occur in the cold is motorhomes that just don’t start. Worn ignitions can struggle to create a spark in cold weather which ignites the engine and gets the motorhome going: it’s the same process as trying to light a fire in the ice! This is very often down to chance, but owners should keep motorhomes under cover and parked in garages wherever possible to minimise the likelihood of not being able to get on the road.
Finally, if we see any snowfall this weekend, it’s likely that the Highways Agency will issue travel warnings. Though these are precautionary, they really do apply to motorhome owners. The high centre of gravity on a motorhome makes it prone to rolling in the event a skid and the chance of doing serious damage is far greater than in a car.
Snow warnings should be heeded with great care by the motorhome community and bad weather in the UK is not to be underestimated. We’re likely to see a tangible increase in motorhome problems this weekend and we’re expect the cold snap to bite hard.
If you judge the average motorhome driver solely on how much experience they’ve had behind the wheel, they should be some of the UK’s best, mainly because of all the practice they have had on various types of roads. The majority can also reverse into the tightest of corners and learn to control the vehicle in all kinds of conditions.
So why, with all this experience under their seatbelt, are they almost 40% more likely to have a serious collision on country roads than their relatively inexperienced counterparts? It’s a question that troubles motorhome insurance firms who pay out thousands of pounds each year after accidents on country lanes. Experienced mobile home owners will be used to all of the blind bends, dips, steep hills, farm animals, farm vehicles, fallen trees, single-lane roads, high-speed limits, mud and debris and yet the accidents still occur. In rural areas almost 26% of accidents happen on a country lane, at night, in the proximity of a bend in the road.
Motorhome owners and insurers would both like to see driving lessons and the driving test include rural roads. According to IAM research, 82% of rural fatal and serious casualties occur on single-carriageway roads, but despite this fact the driving test still does not specifically address rural roads.
In an ideal world, all new drivers should to be taught how to drive on rural roads before they qualify. The speeds are higher, the need to assess bends and surface conditions is higher, and the consequences are often higher too. However, while the roads undoubtedly play a part in the statistics, recent research implies that the roads themselves are not always the problem. Drivers pass their driving test with their hands and feet, but they crash with their minds.
Motorhome owners also would like more bans handed out to those who break the rules on rural roads. Last year more than one million people attended speed awareness courses rather than be convicted of speeding. This is a significant amount of drivers (2.7% of the total driving population) who currently represent an unknown risk to insurers. A recent survey of 942 drivers carried out by road safety charity Brake revealed that 47% admitted speeding at more than 60 miles per hour to overtake on rural roads, while 23% confess they do this at least once a week. All of this is not good news for mobile home owners who just want to explore rural areas without having to make an unwanted insurance claim.
A recent survey shows that younger drivers are more likely to fall asleep while driving than older motorists. It is a fact that may well give some small crumbs of comfort to motorhome insurance providers who usually have an older clientèle but the fact is any driver showing signs of extreme fatigue while driving is a danger to all of us.
In fact the survey was carried out in the USA but insurance experts here believe the same happens in the UK. No-one is sure exactly why younger drivers should be more susceptible to tiredness but statistics in the states tie in with the survey. Accident information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigations in 2010 estimates that young drivers aged 16-24 were 78% more likely to be drowsy at the time of their crash as drivers aged 40-59. The 2010 NHTSA statistics illustrate that one in six fatal crashes involved a driver exhibiting signs of fatigue, making it one of the biggest causes of accidents.
There are plenty of road safety organisations offering advice to motorists who start demonstrating classic symptoms of fatigue, and motorhome owners who often travel long distances in a day should pull over and rest if they experience any of the following: having trouble remembering the last few miles of your journey, missing exits or traffic signs and finding it difficult keeping your eyes open and focused. Day dreaming and yawning are often the first symptoms your body displays and it really is time to stop if you find yourself drifting from lane to lane.
In many circumstances danger signs like these can be avoided by planning your journey, including a good night’s rest the evening before you set off, and by putting planned breaks into your days schedule. In this day and age it is easy to pull off the road and inform those you are intending to meet that you will be slightly late for your rendezvous, which is ultimately a lot better than never getting there at all.
The successes of British cyclists in the last few months has already seen a 6% increase in the number of people taking up cycling. This number is expected to increase over the next few months as cycling takes over the country. And mobile home owners will be in the vanguard of the new crusade.
A motorhome is a great compliment to cycling and it allows people to explore new terrain and travel to different places with bikes in tow. There are three different ways of getting a bike either on or in a motorhome. Bike racks which attach to the rear door are the most effective and are easy to fix which probably explains why 46% of motorhome owners choose them. Many motorhomes are fitted with cycle racks for a minimum of 2 bikes and can usually be increased to hold 4 bikes with a little extra outlay. Other owners (33%) prefer to keep their bikes on the roof of the motorhome to avoid blocking the door. The 21% who keep the bikes inside the motorhome need to make sure they are properly secured on mounts that are not likely to come loose in the event of an accident.
The biggest thing to watch out for when transporting bikes is height restrictions. You’d be amazed at how many motorhome drivers forget that they have bikes on the roof, with 4% making claims on their motorhome insurance policy due to accidental damage when they pulled the racks clean off their roof, damaging both the bikes and the motorhome. Even if laid flat a bike is likely to add a foot or so to the height clearance.
Thefts of bikes from motorhomes have also increased by 22% over the last 5 years with police sources suspecting that a large number of the stolen goods end up on online auction sites. It is also vital to check that the motorhome insurance policy covers bikes because recent research found that many purchasers of motorhome policies (28%) believed that bikes were automatically covered. Don’t be a cheapskate on the insurance either because cheapest is not always best. It is easy to shop around for a cheap motorhome insurance quote but experts say purchasing the right cover for what you’re planning to do is the most important part of any policy. Bad insurance policies won’t save you any money in the long run so make sure the insurer gives you everything you need and if in doubt ask an insurance broker to find a competitive insurance policy.
Motorhome owners are being reminded to make sure they pull over and take a break after a large number have confessed to dizziness and drowsiness at the wheel. With the recent weather likely to push pollen levels through the roof, sufferers are being warned their symptoms could be worse than normal over the next few weeks. Sneezing and watering eyes will result in some drivers who have hay fever having their eyes shut for 80 seconds out of every 60 minutes of driving time which will reduce reaction times and road awareness as well as increasing the risk of an accident and more costly motorhome insurance premiums. Almost 90% of sufferers use antihistamine-based drugs to combat the sneezing bouts and research has shown that they can make things even worse.
The research showed that 25% of motorhome drivers who suffer from hay fever think that their ability to drive is affected by their symptoms and almost all of these admit to having had a minor accident or near miss due to hay fever, with the most severely affected drivers sneezing at least once a minute. Almost one third of drivers who suffer from hay fever have also admitted that they have taken their eyes off the road while searching for tissues. Insurance companies estimate more than two million United Kingdom motorists have had an accident, near miss, or momentarily lost control of their vehicle as a result of sneezing while driving.
A properly maintained air conditioning system can be a vital help for hay fever sufferers, as pollen filters will help guard against allergies. Almost 80% of modern motorhomes on the road are now fitted with good air-con systems, and to keep them working at their most efficient the pollen filters need to be changed every 12 months. Twice as many people suffer from hay fever today, compared with 20 years ago and some experts are predicting that the number of sufferers could triple over the next 20 years.
Motorhome insurance firms will be carefully watching developments in Northern Ireland after the Environment Minister’s bold proposal to reduce the driving age to just 16. Road safety organisations have already hit out at the Environment Minister’s radical proposal to lower the driving age as most are convinced that lowering the legal age for driving would be counter-productive in terms of road safety and insurance costs.
With a huge number of motorhome owners sailing to Northern Ireland each year, motorhome insurance companies will need to take into account the extra number of younger drivers on the road before working out premiums. This is because young driver crashes are normally the result of a combination of age and inexperience and statistics suggest that at 16 a driver would take more risks than a 17 year old. The minister believes that if a driver has a longer period of holding a provisional licence before passing a driving test, then there’s more likelihood that they are going to have a broader driving experience and therefore be a better driver on the other side of qualification. A recent study of 2 million motorists found 13% of those aged 17 have a crash. This compares with 6.5% of motorists overall. But when compared with older motorists, the difference is even more startling. Just 4.5% of motorists in their 40s are involved in a crash and 2% of those over 50. The average cost of an accident involving a 17 year old is almost £3,500 while the average cost of an accident for drivers overall is half of this amount.
The minister also suggested another radical change that could also affect motorhome drivers, because he wants learner drivers to be allowed to drive at 70mph. He feels it is important that learner drivers get used to driving on motorways before they are allowed to take their test. Thousands of mobile home owners use the roads and motorways of Northern Ireland each year and if more younger drivers are going to be on the roads, it is vital that they all have good motorhome insurance in case the worst happens.