Few people give a second thought to how they load up their motorhome, which can lead to dangerous situations on the road. Baloise pushed motorhomes to their limits in its crash tests in order to highlight how unsafe loads can directly affect the forces exerted. The tests revealed the differences in handling between a passenger car and two models of motorhome that differed in terms of equipment level and age.
The first scenario compared the braking distance of an emergency stop on asphalt and on a slippery surface. “It immediately became obvious that weaknesses in the tyres and brake system – depending, for example, on age, quality and how well they had been maintained – can increase the braking distance. If the braking system is adequate, then mass has no direct impact on the braking distance,” said Daniel Junker, Head of Vehicle Experts at Baloise.
The three vehicles then underwent a moose test, an evasive manoeuvre involving two lane changes that simulates avoiding a sudden obstacle in the road. “We could see that the motorhomes were rolling far more than the passenger car. As the speed increases, they are less able to stay in their lane, and in the worst case might even tip over,” added Junker.
In an interview afterwards, Albin Hugentobler of the police service of the Canton of Basel-City reflected on the test findings: “More and more motorhomes have been registered in recent years, but few drivers are used to the dimensions and weight of the vehicles. That is why it is so important to familiarise yourself with the motorhome and to leave enough time for your journey. This ensures that your journey is more relaxing and considerably safer. Drowsiness, overloading and unsafe loads, in particular, are major risk factors with motorhomes.”
Mirjam Affolter of the MyCamper hire platform added: “The owners of our MyCamper vehicles give the hirers a detailed introduction to the motorhome. This includes advice on handling, equipment and how to load it correctly. A thorough handover can minimise the risk of damage and avoid accidents.”
The next crash test examined how a motorhome behaves in an accident. It simulated a common situation: the passenger dummy had its feet on the dashboard, loose objects were scattered around the vehicle and a further dummy and dummy dog were sitting on the bench without a seatbelt or harness. The vehicle was also carrying a surfboard on the roof and two e-bikes on its rear. The motorhome rammed a standing heavy goods vehicle at 60km/h. “It was a picture of devastation. Loose objects turned into projectiles within the vehicle. The unsecured passengers in the rear and the front passenger would have suffered severe injuries and possibly not survived the accident. The surfboard flew off straight ahead and posed a significant danger to other road users,” said Heinz Reber of DTC AG, commenting on the aftermath.
Daniel Junker of Baloise summarised the crash test as follows: “This year’s Baloise crash test clearly demonstrates how careless loading can lead to disastrous road accidents. That is why it is so important to raise awareness among drivers of the need to secure loads correctly and to stay within load limits. Furthermore, a motorhome should be checked before every trip to ensure that it is in perfect condition.”