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 report from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) will shock motorhome insurance providers across the UK today as figures for road deaths show an increase for the first time in almost a decade.
The disappointing figures showed that 1901 people lost their lives in road accidents in 2011, a 3% rise from the 1850 in 2010. Unfortunately 60 of those who died were children, an increase of 9% and 453 were pedestrians a rise of 12%. It will be difficult for experts to get a grip on the reasons for such an increase because confusing statistics arise across the whole spectrum of victims.
For instance although more children died, less were seriously injured, the actual number involved in accidents where serious injuries occurred hardly changing. Conversely an encouraging drop of 10% in the number of motorcyclists killed was offset by a 10% increase in the number of motorcyclists seriously injured and in fact the scale of accidents involving motorcyclists increased by 8%. Similar confusing statistics emerged from figures affecting cyclists. The 4% drop to 107 cyclists losing their lives will be seen as a great improvement considering the number of cyclists who now use the roads in the UK, but once again the encouraging drop in fatalities was overwhelmed by a 16% increase in cyclists seriously injured.
Of course, while RoSPA expressed extreme disappointment in the figures it has to be remembered the cut in deaths and serious injuries over the last few years has been dramatic. However, many of those in road safety and motor insurance believe a lack of leadership involving road safety campaigns from the Government has a bearing on the figures, and indeed RoSPA has called on the Government to bring local authorities and police forces together to see what can be done to halt this blot on road safety in the UK.
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.
Research has shown that older motorhome owners who use medication including sleeping pills, anti-depressants and mood stabilisers are 29% much more likely to be involved in an accident. The study examined local hospital/crash statistics to discover the increased danger for older people on the road. The study examined the case history of drivers aged 60 and over and who were hospitalised as the result of an accident over the last 6 years.
Because of the results of the research, mobile home owners are being urged to disclose every tablet they are taking to their motorhome insurance company to avoid finding out too late that their policy has become invalid due to them not disclosing certain types of medication.
Without doubt insurers are aware that some medications have the possibility of slowing reaction times and when age is taken into account, the insurance premiums will need to be adjusted making cheap insurance hard to find. This is where an insurance broker can use their contacts to find a competitive quote that takes medication into account. Up to one million people taking prescribed antidepressants currently hold a valid UK driving licence and although motorhome owners only make up a small percentage of this number, there are calls for the public to be better educated about the dangers of using medication and road safety.
The study is one of the first of its kind in the United Kingdom and has attracted attention internationally both for its results and the method of linking hospital data with the drugs being taken. By linking the data it was possible to see the link between drivers taking particular medications and those who had a crash and who were hospitalised. The results should not see any extra restrictions put on older drivers and it is hoped that the results can be used to make sure older drivers continue to have a better quality of life and continue to enjoy holidays in their motorhome and may in fact improve their longevity.
Motorhome insurance providers are backing a campaign launched by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IOM) warning drivers of what the charity describes as SMIDSY (Sorry mate I didn’t see you) accidents.
It is the sort of accident that has happened to a great many motorists, cyclists and other road users, and motorhome owners, along with commercial vehicle drivers, can often find it difficult to see motorbikes and cycles that are tucked in close to the kerb side. However, the IOM believe most accidents of this kind happen when drivers lose their concentration, and once again, drivers who are travelling long distances, such as motorhome owners, can easily have lapses of concentration.
In a survey of accidents that have taken place over the last 6 months IOM discovered that 29% of serious accidents and 36% of minor accidents had a common contributing factor, the driver of one of the vehicles had failed to look before completing a manoeuvre. It is not just a few motorists that are guilty of this, it is thousands. And it is not something limited to the long stretches of road on featureless motorways; over 40% of the accidents took place in 30 mph zones. With over half of the motorists questioned confirming that they had been “cut up” by another driver in the same six month period it is obvious lack of concentration is becoming a big problem.
IOM advocate a set of measures that will improve the driving of any motorhome owner but in truth all of the tips can be found in the Highway Code. They include: giving extra space when passing cyclists and motor cyclists. Surfaces on the kerb side of the road often have hazards such as potholes and drains that those on two wheels must avoid; giving them extra room will help. They also remind drivers to check their mirrors before opening their driver door when parked up on a street and of course to check their mirror before completing any manoeuvre. The charity believes that drivers should take responsibility for their own safety by always driving defensively and if everyone adopts the same attitude then accident rates will be cut.