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Road safety is better in small and mid-size motorhomes, crash tests conclude

Large motorhomes (RVs, recreational vehicles) that can be as big as buses seem like safe vehicles because of their size and weight. Crash tests conducted in Sweden, however, concluded that smaller semi-integrated motorhomes were safer than large vehicles. The results were not pretty for neither type of motorhomes.

The Swedish traffic authority Trafikverket decided to test new motorhomes with crash test dummies to find out if vehicles were as unsafe as they suspected. The conclusion by Trafikverket is that motorhomes are not safe. As the head of the tests laconically concluded (referring to the results): “Survival possibilities are minimal.”

Trafikverket tested two types of motorhomes: integrated and semi-integrated.

When talking about vehicles built for road trips, camping and for long stays, an integrated motorhome is built on a custom platform. The entire vehicle is designed for the purpose of using it as a moving home. These vehicles tend to be large, and they have all the conveniences of a modern home so that, for instance, a tour of France is convenient.

A semi-integrated motorhome is built on an ordinary commercial van body. A business specialized in designing motorhomes rebuilds the van. The cabin where the driver sits remains almost as it was when the vehicle rolled out from a factory. Seats are often replaced and the wall between the cabin and the cargo space removed. What used to be the cargo space is rebuilt to serve as a living space with beds, kitchen and bathroom.

Trafikverket’s motorhome crash tests simulated a frontal collision against an average compact car when the travel speed was 90 kmh / 56 mph. The tested motorhomes were not loaded with full water tanks, gas bottles, food, personal travel accessories, or camping gear usually packed inside the vehicle. They increase weight, and make collision impact even stronger.

A surprise was discovered inside a completely destroyed integrated motorhome: some of its body structures were made of wood.

View the video that shows the tests by Trafikverket (in Swedish, but the images don’t require translation):

People pay a lot of money for these vehicles, but get a questionable level of safety in return. Which brand will be the first to design and market its motorhomes as safe on the road?

Trafikverket provides a few recommendations for motorhome owners:

  • Whenever it is possible drive along safe roads where oncoming traffic is separated by a structure.
  • Respect speed limits.
  • Ensure that no objects are loose inside the vehicle.
  • Remove the table behind the driver.

A few recommendations for vehicle manufacturers:

  • Improve the living area fastenings so that structures and objects stay in their places in collision.
  • Make sure the table behind the driver is easy to remove.
  • In the long term, make sure the vehicle platform is safe in collisions.

Cnet reported about the tests.

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