There’s no way around it, in the UK we’re a little short of land. We don’t have the sort of space available to us that somewhere like the USA or Spain does and we’re finding it tough to accommodate a growing population. This has come to the fore most prominently in local parking debates that have raged across the country and, in particular, in popular holiday destinations in England.
Motorhome owners have often been central to these discussions and many local councils have started to change the regulations which operate in car parks. Some have banned overnight parking in city centres and others have started to raise charges to compensate for the extra congestion. Though throughout the winter motorhome traffic tends to be lower, the summer of 2013 could see more councils starting to bring in regulations which are tough on motorhomes.
However, there are plenty of legitimate defenses in favour of motorhome owners. One issue is security, and a lot of motorhome drivers on long journeys simply aren’t able to find campsites and would prefer to park in a secured car park for the night. Very few motorhome insurance claims come from motorhomes which have been parked in secure, paid areas.
Equally, though there are undoubtedly motorhome owners who do cause unnecessary congestion by parking illegally or for extended periods, the majority of motorhome owners are responsible about where they camp and park. The congestion and parking problems are wider traffic issues in many parts of the UK and even in the busiest holiday areas motorhomes still only make up a majority of the vehicles on the road.
Unfortunately the parking debate will roll on for some time and it’s quite likely that we will see a shift towards steeper charges and sharper regulations for oversized vehicles like motorhomes and campervans. All we can hope is that these changes are made with the motorhome community and the tourist industry in mind and that an amiable solution can be found between all parities.
Research has revealed that motorhome owners suffer from a plague of parking phobias which is putting the brakes on their confidence.
Poor parallel parking skills are leading owners to doubt their ability, with females particularly having trouble with this manoeuvre. As many as 28% of women motorhome drivers and 19% of all drivers felt they were not confident about lining their vehicle up between others because the vehicle is much larger than an average sized car. Those living in the east of England are the least confident about parallel parking and Londoners the most confident. This is probably explained by the fact that drivers in the capital find parking spaces are at a minimum and they will be used to parking their large vehicle in tight spots. The survey of 17,000 mobile home owners throughout the United Kingdom found that that 18% had changed their parking plans at the last minute because they lacked the confidence and skill to get their vehicle into the parking space available. Females (26%) were twice as likely as males (14%) to change their parking plans at the last moment and they mainly concerned shopping and eating out trips.
As many as a 26% claimed that they had blacklisted certain roads where they find parking manoeuvres too hard, while 27% will avoid certain car parks for the very same reason. Mobile home owners in Scotland and the south east of England are most likely to have done this. 22% of those questioned said they had claimed on their motorhome insurance for damage caused in parking incidents.
With more vehicles on the roads, parking problems are causing needless headaches for a lot of owners and the research highlights a skills gap that can easily be addressed. Drivers should not feel they are beyond help; almost everyone can overcome their problems with a little professional tuition and guidance.
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 number of drivers increasing each day, motorhome insurance companies will be very interested in research that shows there is a condition described by experts as “driving dread” and that it effects a large number of newly qualified drivers.
According to the research more than a quarter of drivers (27%) say they lack confidence when it comes to simple tasks such as parking. The findings also show that driving on new roads is another top fear with 30% saying they don’t like tackling roads they’ve never been on before. Furthermore, 5% would rather plan a different route instead of dealing with a big junction and driving in a city centre (19%) is another place that fills new drivers with fear. This is bad news for motorhome owners who despite having decades of driving experience, can still be involved in an accident due to the “driving dread” of another. Other fears include motorway driving (18%), driving through tight gaps (19%), roundabouts (13%) and overtaking (15%).
The findings show the extent to which new motorists worry about driving. Although young drivers have the reputation for being reckless and too confident, there are also many more drivers who actually lack the confidence they need on the roads of the United Kingdom. It is because of these drivers that motorhome insurance companies may need to look into whether these drivers are increasing the risk of an accident. The road is a very scary place for everyone when they first start driving, but the research shows that basic things such as parking or negotiating roundabouts are still a major worry for drivers long after they have passed the driving test. The good news for mobile home owners who are out exploring the country is that the research showed that 47% of those who do have “driving dreads” will avoid driving in bad weather and more than a tenth (12%) will avoid rush hour traffic. However, more worrying is the 5% who admitted closing their eyes when dealing with tricky situations on the road and 2% who admitted that chatting on their phone helps to calm their nerves.