Motorhome insurance companies will be delighted to learn that recent research reveals that over three quarters of motorists questioned said they would be happy for manufactures to come up with technology that will deactivate digital devices when they get into their mobile home.
As this is about as likely to happen as Turkeys voting for Christmas, it must be up to manufacturers to come up with safer ways for owners to continue communicating while they are ensconced in their campervans, motorhomes or whatever vehicle they may be travelling in. Incredibly, despite it being 23 times more dangerous than focusing on the road ahead, some motorhome owners are still using their hands to send a text while driving. Insurance experts are convinced some technology is actually causing accidents and this is why, they believe, it is time to draw a line in the sand and determine whether it is time to disable certain actions in the vehicle.
All distractions are not equal when it comes to danger. Talking to a passenger or glancing in the mirrors to assess the traffic is significantly less dangerous than sending a text or posting an update on a social network site. Insurance experts believe that texting while driving is the most disturbing and dangerous thing a motorist can do while driving but fines and bans are only as effective as the level of enforcement, and research shows that 88% of drivers recently questioned said they see mobile use by drivers on a daily basis. So it seems that texting is like breathing, drivers do not even know they are doing it. More than three in four mobile home owners (76%) believe vehicle technologies are too distracting and even dangerous to have. In addition, more than half (55%) argue that some manufacturers have taken technology for road use too far and furthermore three in five (61%) view their motorhome as a haven from the outside world and they do not always want to be connected while driving.
As thousands of UK motorhome owners look to save on their driving expenses by searching for cheaper fuel or motorhome insurance, a survey commissioned by one the country’s leading tyre chemical suppliers suggests drivers are ignorant of other cost cutting methods.
Lanxness commissioned Onepoll to ask 3,000 motorists their views on tyre related matters and found most drivers have very little interest or knowledge in one of the most important aspects of any vehicle. The survey found that seven out of ten drivers are still completely unaware of impending legislation surrounding tyre labelling and that only one in a hundred motorists sufficiently understood the impact tyres can have on fuel economy.
The new tyre labelling system has been designed to give ordinary motorists an easy to evaluate description of tyres they wish to purchase. Industry experts have spent long hours designing the system to help motorists make the correct choice but Kim O’Connor, Managing Director of Lanxness, is not sure the public are ready for it, saying “The impact of the new labeling system will depend heavily on the number of motorists that know these labels exist and understand how to use them. The results of our survey demonstrate that the motoring community is not yet ready and needs an easy and accessible way to understand the impact different tyres can have on their wallets and carbon footprint.”
No-one can accuse Lanxness of not trying to get their message across and they have even designed a free app for smart phones and tablets that will give motorists an insight into how much money they can save by selecting a certain type of tyre. For motorhome enthusiasts who rack up long miles on their journeys the app could really be an eye-opener. The driver feeds in information such as the grade of tyre according to the new labeling system, the price of fuel, estimated annual mileage and the driver’s style of driving. The app will then feed back the exact savings per year different types of tyres can deliver and illustrates the savings in pounds (financial savings), litres (fuel savings) and Kg (carbon savings) on a single screen.
Lanxness believe savings of almost £200 a year and emission savings of 350kgs are easily attainable for motorists who take the time to think about their tyres.
With data released earlier this summer showing the first increase in road fatalities for several years in the UK, many road safety organisations called for the driving test to brought into line with other EU countries and basically made a little more difficult. It will interest many in the motorhome insurance business that a new survey finds the great majority of British motorists have plenty of confidence in their own driving skills, even though they may be a little rusty on their theory.
The survey, carried out by a road safety organisation, found that 67% of motorists questioned were confident they would pass the practical driving examination there and then if requested to do it, with the figure going up to 76% when asked if they thought they could pass their practical driving exam first time. The figures are quite amazing really when one considers the number of accidents that take place every day on UK roads, and it is worth noting that the motorists questioned crossed the whole vehicle spectrum. It would have been less surprising if the motorists questioned had driven specialised vehicles like motorhomes where certain skills acquired by driving such a large vehicle do tend to make the driver more confident.
In fact three quarters of those questioned asserted they would not be nervous about taking a practical exam, and those who did admit to being not quite so confident said city driving and reversing would be the only two factors they may struggle on.
Confidence levels were not quite the same when it came to the theory part of the test. Just 1 in 3 drivers said they were as knowledgeable now of the Highway Code as when they passed their driving test, with 4 out of ten saying they would be totally unsure about how they would fare. Most motorhome insurance experts will accept that confident drivers are a better insurance bet than nervous drivers but the amount of drivers who seemingly throw away their Highway Code copy once they have passed their test must be a cause for concern.
Most holders of motorhome insurance policies will be familiar with problems associated with parking a vehicle virtually anywhere in the UK. The size and shape of an average motorhome makes it just that more difficult to park in spaces that were in many cases designed for family saloons produced in the 1960s.
They will take little comfort from the fact that motorists driving more conventional vehicles feel the same way, but it is true. A recent survey by the RAC Foundation revealed that vehicles owned by motorists in the UK only spend 4% of their lives doing the job they were designed for… transporting people! The report suggests that vehicles spend 80% of their lives parked up outside their owners domicile, and 16% of the time parked up elsewhere. With an estimated 28 million cars covered with motor insurance in the UK that means an awful lot of parking spaces are required. And that is probably why parking and parking fines are such a big issue in our overcrowded island.
There is no doubt that motorhome owners suffer more than most motorists when trying to find a place to park and it is no surprise therefore that the motorhome lobby are most vociferous in calling councils to account for providing adequate parking. As Professor Stephen Glaister of the RAC Foundation points out: “Councils regard parking provision as an afterthought. Unlike their legal obligation to keep traffic moving there is no law that makes them provide adequate space for stationary cars, though we would regard the two topics as inextricably linked.”
Perhaps they should spend some of the half a billion pounds of surplus cash they wrestled from motorists on providing parking spaces that take into account the design and number of motorhomes in the UK today.
With the Department for Transport (DfT) admitting they are actively considering converting part of the A14 in Cambridgeshire into a toll road, holders of motorhome insurance policies can be forgiven for wondering when the powers that be will stop penalising motorists.
If the proposal does go ahead it will fly in the face of Government policy and promises that stated the Coalition Government would not impose tolls on roads already in public use. The get out clause being used by the DfT is that the stretch of road being considered will undergo such a massive facelift that it will in effect be a new road. It is still just a cosmetic job really and no matter what spin the DfT put on it, it will be seen by motorists as yet another U-turn by a Government who claim to be on the motorist’s side. In fact the plan for the A14 has not been received too well by motoring organisations apart from the toll issue. The plan is to create a new road for through traffic that will be tolled and for a road each side of it that will be toll free and dedicated to local use. However, many motoring organisations believe many motorists will use the side roads rather than pay to use the toll road, making congestion worse than it undoubtedly was before.
The critics do have history on their side as well. The UK’s first toll road, the M6 Toll was created in 2003 to alleviate problems in and around Birmingham. The road was designed to cope with 100,000 vehicles a day but has never had to deal with anything like that number, mainly because UK residents are just not happy about paying road tolls. In 2003 the toll charge on the M6 was just £2 but it was still enough to dissuade motorists from using it with just 36,000 using it daily. As the growth of vehicles increased so did usage and in 2006, over 50,000 vehicles a day paid the toll, about half of the predicted traffic. Last year with the toll now raised to £5.50 the average daily usage was at its lowest ever, at 34,000. It is certainly a pleasant 27 mile drive for those who pay for the privilege but it has done little to ease the congestion on the roads around it. Certainly local drivers avoid it whenever possible and this is proved by a roughly 30% drop in traffic at the weekends.
The DfT are being encouraged to think long and hard before the A14 toll goes ahead and motorists cannot be blamed for hoping for yet another U-turn!