Are RVs safe in a crash? (9 safety tips)

In this short guide, we will discuss: Are RVs safe in a crash? We will give you a few essential safety tips for travelling with an RV. 

Are RVs safe in a crash?

Just like any other vehicle on the road, RVs are not completely safe in a crash. The structure of an RV is not strong enough to protect the driver and passengers. These models indeed have a very short deformation zone compared to their high weight.

  • Class A RVs – the least safe in a crash. They are too large and just not designed to withstand an impact.
  • Class B RVs – the safest RV in a crash. Most of them come with airbags and have less weak spots.
  • Class C RVs – safe in a crash for the driver and co-pilot. Still dangerous for the passengers, especially if they are not wearing a seatbelt. 

Although many manufacturers test crash their motorhomes, to stay safe on the road, be sure to take some precautions even before you start your journey:

  1. Be aware of your vehicle’s size. Many road accidents occur due to the added size and weight of motorhomes. For example, operators accidentally drive under an overpass without sufficient clearance because they forget about the extra height. Know the height of your motorhome and keep it close at hand. 

Also, find out about the clearances of bridges and tunnels along your route, especially on secondary roads. A specific road atlas for motorhome or semi-trailer drivers may be helpful.

  1. RV maintenance is important.  A mechanically safe motorhome will be less prone to breakdown. Pay special attention to maintenance. Make a pre-trip checklist and do an inspection every time you get behind the wheel. Use these safety tips to ensure proper maintenance of your motorhome:
  • Inspect all belts and hoses for cracks and replace them when necessary.
  • Check the headlights, taillights, and turn signals.
  • Check that your tires have the correct air pressure and sufficient tread depth.
  • Check any hitching or towing equipment.
  • Check your fire extinguishers and smoke alarms.
  • Clean your kitchen range hood to prevent grease fires.
  • Make sure food is well stored inside kitchen cabinets.
  • Have a plan in case something goes wrong.
  • Always carry your cell phone with you and know the emergency numbers. Also, inform your itinerary to family or friends in case of emergency.
  1. Make adjustments based on the weather. High winds, rain, fog, and ice make RV driving dangerous. If possible, plan your trip to avoid bad weather or consider the extra time so that you can delay the trip if necessary.
  1. Always wear seat belts. Passengers must also buckle up. Laws don’t require motorhomes to have seat belts in all areas where passengers can sit, but safety comes first, so buckle up.

What are the most common causes of RV involved accidents?

The most common causes of motorhome accidents include:

  • Fires that occur from LP (propane) gas leaks.
  • Tire explosions: due to overload, under-inflated or old tires.
  • RV Awnings and Steps – Exterior RV steps are not stowed prior to travel or canopy is not stored properly during travel and when weather is variable.
  • Driving errors regarding height and clearance: RVs collide with bridges or service station cantilevers.
  • Overload – Poorly distributed weight can cause braking and steering failure.
  • Extensions Out: Make sure the extensions are retracted before starting.
  • Insect or rodent pests – When the motorhome is stored for a period of time, mice, squirrels, and many other rodents can nibble on cables, plastic, and hoses on it.

For more information on RV safety, visit the RV Safety & Education Foundation.

Six safety tips for your RV trip

When we start a trip it is important to have knowledge of the state of the vehicle or motorhome, so as not to be surprised during the journey.

Before starting our journey, it is necessary to review all the mechanical and electrical aspects of the motorhome for the safety of our family and other vehicles that travel on the roads. That is why we will show you some recommendations to prepare your vehicle before hitting the road.

Check the lights. The lighting of our caravan or motorhome is one of the fundamental elements in safety, so its maintenance must be carried out with care.

It is important to know that in many countries by law, it is established that the car lights must be turned on between sunset and sunrise, in low visibility conditions and in other situations such as inside a tunnel or when driving in a lane.

Periodically check the operation of all the vehicle’s lights, such as low beam, parking, long-range (road), brake lights, turn signals, fog lights, warning, the exterior of the body. Bear in mind that poor lighting generates poor visibility, a situation that causes visual fatigue for the driver.

Spread the load. Badly distributed cargo in our motorhome modifies its behaviour. In addition, poor distribution complicates dynamics and affects visibility. Keep in mind that exceeding the load limit authorized by the manufacturer can bring financial penalties and in some countries the immobilization of the vehicle.

To safely drive our motorhome with a considerable load, it must be taken into account that when overtaking, it will take more time to overtake. A greater following distance must be maintained as more meters are needed to brake.

Latest revisions. It is important to check the mechanical and electrical parts of the caravan one last time. Check the supplied closure and the fastening system. In no case should they remain in service during the tour.

A gas leak, due to rupture of its pipes, in a collision, can cause the explosion and the possible fire of the vehicle. Check that all the things are in their corresponding places. Get the satellite dish, remove the access ladder, so that the windows and ventilation spaces do not remain open.

Test drive the RV. At first, it may be difficult to adapt to these vehicles. It is. It is advisable to practice a little, to know the dimensions of our motorhome.

Brakes can be a problem and cause various accidents. You do not have to break dry and always be careful with the braking that takes place. The same applies to speed levels, which should always be stable. Among the best tips for driving with a motorhome is to drive regularly, without speed increases or decreases, without overtaking and without excesses. (See tips for driving a large vehicle)

Maintaining a safe distance is essential to avoid sudden braking and to facilitate the overtaking of cars that come from behind and that are going at a higher pace. It is important not only to check the distance to the vehicle in front of you but also to the one behind.

Learn to park an RV. At present we can already camp our motorhome in a large number of points, either in traditional campsites or in other specific ones for this type of vehicle. In some there are even light sockets, also discharge points and allow you to take out tables, chairs and awnings to enjoy the experience without a problem. 

Although it is advisable to take into account the regulations of each of the points where we are going to park or park so as not to err in the attempt.

Consider that a camping area is one where all these activities can be carried out, while a parking area is where you can park any type of vehicle and there you cannot fully enjoy all the possibilities of the motorhome. Taking more actions than allowed could result in a violation of the rules and be fined.

As for parking, parking on urban roads. It depends on time constraints, prohibition, traffic density, etc; that is, the general permits and limitations that apply in each city for motor vehicles.

Caution with thieves. It is important to choose a good place to park our caravan, currently, there are several spaces for this. It is recommended to be very cautious and uses common sense to choose a suitable place. Try to choose authorized spaces and in case of not finding them, in guarded or busy places. That allows them to have peace of mind when leaving their motorhome parked. 

Final thoughts

Whether preparing a trip for a long or a short stay, the RV must be subject to regular checks and optimal maintenance to avoid any technical problems on the roads. In this way, passengers and the driver can fully enjoy their journey in great comfort. 

In addition to the usual checks, follow our tips before going on an adventure and make sure you take all the necessary precautions!

Do you have any questions, comments or suggestions on how to safely travel in an RV? Let us know!

References

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