Crash test dummies didn’t survive test collisions in new motorhomes

crashed van or motorhome, photo by mali maeder.
Photo by Mali Maeder.

Sales of motorhomes has risen rapidly in Sweden, and so have accidents where motorhomes have been involved. The Swedish traffic authority Trafikverket decided to test new motorhomes with crash test dummies to find out if these vehicles were as unsafe as they suspected. The results are bad. So bad that it makes us wonder why this hasn’t been discovered earlier.

The harsh conclusion by Trafikverket is that motorhomes are not safe. As the leader of the tests calmly put it (referring to the results): “Survival possibilities are minimal.”

Semi-integrated motorhomes survived the test better than integrated vehicles. The particular model and materials used in construction affect the chances of survival, but it is obvious there are major problems in the safety of motorhomes.

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.

motorhomes at a car show

A semi-integrated motorhome is built on an ordinary commercial van body. A business specialized in building 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 changed and the wall between the cabin and the cargo space removed. Of course, there is no cargo space, because it is rebuilt to serve as a living space with beds, kitchen and bathroom.

Trafikverket’s motorhome tests represent a frontal collision against an average compact car when the speed is 90 kmh / 56 mph. The tested motorhomes were not loaded with a full water tank, gas bottles, food, personal travel accessories, and camping gear usually packed inside the vehicle.

A surprise was discovered inside the destroyed integrated motorhome: some structures were made of wood.

View the test video by Trafikverket (in Swedish, but the actual test images don’t require translation):

Travelers pay 50 000 – 150 000 euros for these vehicles, and get a highly questionable level of safety. Let’s see which brand will be the first to market its motorhomes as safe on the road.

Trafikverket has a few recommendations for motorhome owners:

  • Choose safe roads where oncoming traffic is separated by a structure.
  • Follow speed limits.
  • Ensure that there are no loose objects in the vehicle.
  • Remove the table top behind the driver.

And recommendations for manufacturers:

  • In the short term, improve the living area fastenings so that structures and objects stay in place in collision.
  • In the short term, make sure the table is easy to remove.
  • In the long term, make sure the vehicle platform is safe in crash situations.

Cnet reported about the tests and wondered what is the situation in the US where even larger motorhomes (or RVs, recreational vehicles) are common than in Europe.

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