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Accidents involving recreational vehicles
Recreational vehicles (RVs) have enjoyed growing popularity for a number of years in Germany. Not only is the number of these vehicles rising continuously; the number of new registrations is also increasing every year. Although the road accident statistics contain basic information on accidents involving RVs, there is a lack of detailed knowledge about the current structure of accidents involving RVs and how they are used. The UDV therefore carried out a two-year project in which it examined RV accidents involving injury more closely, checked how heavily they were loaded together with the police, interviewed their drivers, tested the driving stability of the vehicles and carried out crash tests.
The investigations showed that an RV accident is a very rare event and that the occupants of the RV are generally not injured as badly as those of the opposing vehicles. Those seated in the RV’s living area tend to be at higher risk of injury than the driver or front passenger. The most frequent accident type for RVs is the accident in longitudinal traffic, in which the RV collides with the rear end of another vehicle, for example. The measurements of the vehicles’ loads revealed that RVs are overloaded in roughly every other case. In over 10% of the cases studied, the vehicle should not even have been on the road according to German law, because the gross vehicle weight was exceeded by over 10%.
A survey of the RV drivers affected showed very clearly that most of them do not know the actual weight of their laden vehicle and are unaware that it is overloaded. A further problem in relation to the load took the form of incorrect axle loads. Often the rear axle is too heavy even when the gross vehicle weight has not yet been exceeded. The measurements of the load also often showed that household goods or dogs were not secured, or at least not well enough. This results in an additional risk of injury to the vehicle’s occupants from flying parts in the event of hard braking or an accident. A crash test carried out by the UDV confirmed this convincingly.
The driving trials revealed that how RVs respond is uncritical even when fully loaded, provided the travel essentials and any other items are correctly distributed in the vehicle and properly secured. The braking tests carried out showed that the braking performance of the RVs tested complies with the legislation but is clearly inferior to that of a typical modern car.