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Peter W Jones AMInstP

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I notice that the Caravan and Camping Club official web site is now telling the world and its members that caravans are safe; the statistics prove it.

Any one who has read my paper in Hansard published in July 2006 will know that the official DfT statistics are being wrongly analysed by the DfT because they do not have regard for the comparatively small number of miles covered compared with most other road vehicles.

The 43 deaths and may hundreds of serious injuries to caravanners and small trailer towers needs to be multiplied by about 10 to give any comparability with other road vehicles. However, the latest edition of the Caravan Club Magazine even disputes the “43” figure pointing out that the results which this time were published by the Highways Agency also include all trailers; this of course is true, but one only needs to observe the number of caravans on the road compared with other small trailers to know which group is having the most accidents.

However, we are off on our first trip this season (next week) and as I have as yet neither electronic brakes or  an aerofoil I shall stick to 50mph max air speed and feel as safe as other motorists. 

The Highways Agency are discriminating against caravanners and small trailer towers by only offering advice on the dangers of cross winds to this category when it is blindingly obvious that cross winds of a stronger nature will also cause snaking and jack knifing to HGV trailers.

The accident statistics for HGV’s, thanks in my opinion due to pressure from the Road Haulage Lobbyists, are even more misleading because they do not recognise snaking; it is all in the category of “skidding” or some thing similar. Individual Police Authorities may have more detailed records and I hope that the media will wake up and use the “Freedom of Information Act” to obtain the necessary figures. Caravans are easily pushed off the road even when on their sides, but HGV’s cause enormous disruption because they have to wait for the arrival of a very heavy duty crane. If the Highways Agency monitored for wind speed ( and displayed the information on the electronic sign boards) we would have less disruption and be considerably safer.

Caravan Weights.

As even the experienced caravan journalist John Wickersham thinks that public weighbridges give out accurate information on caravan weights, I should remind readers that I was told on the phone about 2 years ago by Birmingham Trading Standards that there was not a suitable place in the Birmingham area for weighing caravans.

Nearly all public weighbridges are designed to weigh lorries and cannot be relied on to give accurate results for caravans. The police when checking weights at the road side use an electronic device and I would have thought that the caravan industry/caravan clubs’ scheme for supervising quality in caravan workshops would have ensured that all workshops had a similar device.

The last time I had my touring van serviced at one of the above establishments I asked for the weight of the van to be checked. This request seemed not to have been made before as it was assumed that I was asking for the caravan “nose weight” to be checked!  Caravanners and small trailer towers will continue to be at risk of prosecution simply because it is virtually impossible to find a suitable weighbridge. I hope that club members will try and persuade club executives to rectify this situation.

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Introduction to the remaining blogs for new readers.

A good introduction to these blogs is the short paper I wrote in late 2005 which was published in Hansard in July 2006.  See

www.parliament.uk

Put  “Caravan and HGV Trailer Accidents” in to the search engine and this will appear under the heading:-

“House of Commons-Transport-Minutes of Evidence.”

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