The satellite navigation system (‘sat-nav’) has become a standard accessory for the motorhome owner over the last few years. Commercial sat-navs started their lives way back in the late nineties and were always a bit cumbersome to use. Systems were difficult to mount, expensive, and worst of all, inaccurate. Even today many motorhome users choose to stay away from sat-navs because they’re often wrong!
However, scientists in Spain have devised a new system which is helping to make sat-navs considerably more accurate. A combination of a traditional GPS signal, beamed down to your device from somewhere in the Earth’s orbit, gyroscopes and accelerometers has helped to narrow down the possible error on a sat-nav to around 2 meters. For a car, that’s about half a length and considerably less if you’re in a motorhome.
Additional accuracy is great news for all vehicles, but it’s even more critical for motorhomes. We receive a lot of motorhome insurance claims that involved motorhome owners trying to correct a wrong turn, often because of the failure of a sat-nav. There is much more of a risk of a motorhome being sent down a narrow track or ending up under a low bridge and therefore accurate directions are much more critical.
With further development it’s also possible that more accurate sat-navs could also be used to prevent accidents. If, for example, one sat-nav sensed a second too close it could warn the driver or, if the technology was perfected, it could even apply the brakes faster than a driver could. All of these developments are a long way off, but they are a step towards making our roads safer.
There aren’t too many motorhome owners without some sort of sat-nav these days and it looks like they’re really going to be a tool to cherish in the future. Improved accuracy can only be a good thing for the motorhome market and it will be interesting to see where it leads to next.
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.
Campervan drivers in the North West are being warned to be careful when parking their vehicles as a spate of thefts from vehicles is blighting the area.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) are asking all motorists who park in public places to take their GPS navigation systems out of their vehicle to avoid them being stolen by thieves who have become skilled in removing the devices from vehicles. GMP revealed that in just three areas of their territory, Prestwich, Radcliffe and Whitefield, over 250 of the navigation aids have been stolen from vehicles in the last year, including many from motorhomes and campervans. The systems have become one of the “must have” motoring accessories and can cost up to £450.
A spokesman for GMP said: “Sat-navs are one of the top three items stolen from vehicles in our area. Only number plates and tools are higher. I would like to encourage all residents to lock up their cars, keep valuables hidden or, even better, and remove them altogether. We are dealing with determined characters here who will do anything to raise cash quickly, and really an unlocked car door or goods on display is an open invitation.”
The spokesman said most of the crimes are committed in roads and car parks close to Metro Link stations where vehicles are often parked up for many hours. The success rate for catching the criminals is very low with only a dozen offenders having been charged. Apparently almost 40% of the thefts came from vehicles that were not even locked and campervan drivers will know that any claim on their motorhome insurance could easily be invalidated if they have not taken adequate security precautions. The GMP say they are committed to stopping the crime wave and say the public can help by reporting anyone behaving suspiciously to their local police station.
Motorhome owners are being warned that they may be placing their GPS devices in the wrong place and although the warning emanates from Australia, police in the UK confirm it is also a problem here.
Thousands of motorhome enthusiasts tour the Australian State of Queensland in their pursuit of a sunshine holiday but RAC officials are concerned that drivers are placing the sat-nav devices in the middle of the windscreen and hindering their view. Police sources confirmed that 84 drivers in the state were prosecuted for driving without a clear view in 2011, with a number being involved in accidents that have led to claims involving motorhome insurance.
Paul Turner, a spokesman for the RAC, said “There is little doubt that poor placement of a GPS device can, and has, led to crashes. If they are put in the wrong place, it can certainly lead to crashes and serious injury or death and we don’t think there has been enough education on where drivers should place their sat-navs. It really is an issue of ignorance rather than people flouting the law, every taxi driver I’ve seen has it in the wrong place. Most people think they are doing the right thing by putting it in the middle of the windscreen because they don’t have to move their head, but in fact that is the wrong place to put it.”
According to a police spokesman in the UK, motorhome owners are advised to put their navigation devices as low as possible in the right hand corner of the windscreen thus ensuring it does not hinder their view from any of their mirrors.