A call for changes to British Summer Time by one of the UK’s leading road safety charities is likely to be supported by the majority of motorhome insurance providers in the UK, who year on year see claims increase when the clocks go back.
The Institute of Advanced Drivers (IAM) is calling for radical changes to how time is measured in the UK and are proposing to replace British Summer Time (BST) with Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) plus one hour in winter and GMT plus two hours in summer. This would extend the hours of daylight in the evenings, making them brighter until 10pm. They believe such a system would drastically reduce casualties in motor accidents and statistics prove they have a point.
Every year when the clocks go back at the end of October accident rates start to climb. Compared to average monthly figures last year, November saw a 14% increase in the number of pedestrians killed or seriously injured, a massive 28% in the number of motorcycle casualties per vehicle mile, and a 5% increase in cyclist injuries. It is the first few weeks that are the worst but darker days and nights usually mean more deaths and injuries on our roads. IAM propose a three year trial period for their idea and they have support plenty of support from other industries.
The tourist industry has long supported the idea of longer daylight hours and it is a fact that campervan enthusiasts along with other motorists would spend more time, hence more money, at attractions if they had more hours of daylight to enjoy. The Tourism Alliance for instance believes the change would create more jobs and help the UK out of the recession. Environmental groups believe the trial could reduce harmful CO2 emissions by up to half a million tonnes and law and order experts suggest longer daylight hours will also bring about a reduction in the crime rate.
The campaign for a change seems to be growing in momentum and IAM are convinced it is now time to give their suggestion a try, certainly a vote for Scottish Independence in the next couple of years would see England and Wales move forward with this a whole lot quicker.
It is advice that motorhome and campervan insurance providers have been advocating for years and now one of the UK’s leading road safety charities are launching a campaign highlighting the advantages of pre-planning a night out.
The chances of a motorhome owner making a claim on their insurance policy are drastically reduced if they plan their trip in advance. Pre-journey checks on tyres, oil levels, screen wash etc. all lessen the chance of the vehicle breaking down en-route, and a basic check on the renewal dates of breakdown and vehicle insurance cover should always be a pre-requisite of any long journey. It may sound obvious to the well prepared motorist but insurance providers will know that simple checks are all too often ignored.
The same pre-planning should also apply to routes taken and accommodation booked. Today’s motorist probably has a satellite navigation device that will take him from his doorstep to the front door of a hotel just by pushing in a post code, but what happens if the device develops a fault or circumstances change and alternative routes have to be taken. A map should always have a place in a vehicle and a quick study of the route via the internet or a map in the days leading up to a long journey will pay dividends. Drivers are at their most vulnerable when their stress levels are high and people in general tend to make bad, or at best rushed, decisions when they are lost.
Pre-planning will also help once a driver has reached his venue. Knowing the whereabouts of safe and secure parking will cut down on the chance of your vehicle being stolen and ensure the journey to the restaurant or theatre can be conducted with peace of mind. It is always a good idea to reverse into a parking lot in the light so you can drive out when it is dark, and always give yourself plenty of time to complete the journey. The aforementioned sat-nav systems are a particular favourite of thieves and rushing to be on time for an appointment or a restaurant booking could easily lead to one forgetting to hide away any valuables in the vehicle.
Take a look in most dictionaries and an accident will likely be described as something along the lines of “An unexpected and undesirable event, a mishap unforeseen and without apparent cause.”
It is a fact though that most accidents can be avoided and this equally applies to collisions involving motor vehicles that we all describe as “accidents”. So, what causes them and how can they be avoided?
Motorhome insurance firms and owners would both love accidents to be avoided and the latest research shows that there are four factors that contribute to the vast majority of motorhome accidents. In order they are: driver behaviour 70%, poor roadway maintenance 14%, roadway design 9% and equipment failure 7%. Over 95% of motorhome accidents involve some degree of driver behaviour combined with one of the other 3 factors. As long as insurance has been available, drivers have always tried to blame the road conditions, equipment failure, or other drivers for the accidents.
When the facts are truthfully presented, however, the behaviour of the driver is usually the primary cause and the majority are caused by excessive speed or aggressive driver behaviour. Lack of observation comes top of the list when it comes to motorhome owner behaviour errors with just one third of accidents caused by drivers failing to look properly before they make a manoeuvre, this is followed by failing to judge another drivers path or speed at 18.9% and poor turning or manoeuvre at 14.1%. The research also found that the majority of these incidents happened during the daylight hours (70%) compared to the night time (30%).
It’s not often that the worlds of fashion and road safety intersect, but they should do, because far too many motorhome drivers are making bad footwear choices. A poll by the AA found that 27% of respondents had encountered difficulties while driving because of the shoes they were wearing, with 5% claiming that their footwear had actually led to them driving dangerously and losing control of the vehicle. Wearing the right shoes for the long journeys taken in a motorhome mean the feet are relaxed making it easier to react faster to changes in traffic or road conditions. Never, ever wear flip flops when driving, the loose fitting shoes may be an ideal choice for the beach and lounging around at home but they can be killers in a motorhome. The shoes can easily slip off and jam underneath a pedal when a driver has to react quickly to a situation, it is a fact and it has happened and people have died as a consequence.
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.
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 will look in dismay at a survey published by the RAC this week, and wonder what on earth the powers that be can do to make young drivers become more responsible drivers.
At a time when leaders of the motor insurance industry, the UK Government and motor manufacturers come together to discuss ways of making roads safer and motor insurance cheaper, the survey by the RAC suggests the message is just not getting across to young drivers. The results from interviewing over 1000 drivers showed that 17-24 year-olds are more likely to take drugs before driving now than they were 12 months ago, the figures increasing from 5% to 9%. In the same period 1 in 8 of the same age group had been in a vehicle knowing the driver was under the influence of drugs and were seemingly not too concerned.
The situation for usage of mobile devices was equally depressing with 20% of young drivers admitting they access Facebook and Twitter while driving. In 2011 the figure was just 10%! Studies by motorhome insurance providers show that drivers using hand held phones are twice more likely to have a crash, while evidence from other industry experts suggest that using a mobile phone while driving is in fact more dangerous than drink driving. So where do we go from here? The RAC believe that the Government is at least partly to blame pointing out that using a mobile phone or taking drugs while driving is not widely held to be socially unacceptable in the same way as drink driving is. The reason they believe is because the Government have not funded a national hard hitting campaign to outlaw the modern curses in the way that drink driving was targeted for many years.
Of course later this year the new offence of drug driving will arrive on the statute book and maybe that will help, but many in the industry now believe only an out and out ban will stop youngsters from being tempted to reach for their mobile phones when behind the wheel of a car.