There are more RVs on the road than there have been in many years. The usual demographic of retired seniors are still RVing, but a younger generation of people have also joined the RV community. RVs are required to undergo crash and rollover testing by Federal law. But there are still mistakes RVers (both young and old) make that have little to do with their vehicle’s safety. RV accidents are more common than you think. Being aware of the mistakes that lead to these RV accidents is the first step to avoiding getting into one yourself.
In 2012, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reported that 75,000 people sustained injuries due to an RV accident. As the popularity of RVing grows, so will that number. That is, unless new RVers take heed and learn from other people’s mistakes. RV owners are not required to take a driver training course and are only required to carry a license. This leads to inexperienced drivers often causing RV accidents. However, seniors often have accidents, too. These RV accidents are sometimes due to the usual symptoms of aging, including weakened vision and delayed response time. Essentially, if you drive an RV, you need to be careful on the road.
We’ve compiled the top 10 causes of RV accidents so you can be prepared and ready to defensively protect yourself and your loved ones. Don’t ruin a well-planned vacation by ending up in the hospital and paying for costly repairs and higher RV Insurance rates. Always stay safe and make sure you have proper RV Insurance. Learn how you can protect yourself and your RV below.
Just as with it is with driving a car, speeding is one of the surest ways of increasing your chances of having an accident. If there’s inclement weather or winds are pounding, you’re setting yourself up for an accident if you’re speeding. At fast speeds, you may also not be able to brake in time if another vehicle unexpectedly cuts you off or if there is already an accident ahead. If you’re towing a trailer, know that if you brake abruptly, you have some heavy weight behind you that may send you into the vehicle ahead of you! It’s never a good idea to go faster than the speed limit. And it’s especially wise to stay below 60 miles per hour in an RV. Not only will you spend far less money on gas, you will likely avoid most RV accidents.
2. High Winds
Rarely are winds powerful enough to flip an RV, especially if it’s a sturdy motorhome. However, as RVs become more lightweight and cost efficient, they do have a higher chance of flipping over. You can minimize the impact of winds by parking in an area without overhanging trees and with the RV pointing in the direction of the oncoming wind (just as you would in a car or truck). Also, keep your stabilizing jacks down. Always remember, it’s the sideways winds which are potentially dangerous to your vehicle. When you drive at slower speeds, these dangerous winds are less powerful. Taking side streets instead of the highway on days when winds are 20 mph or more is a good idea too.
3. Tired Drivers
According to a 2016 study by the American Automobile Association (AAA), drunk drivers are less dangerous than sleepy ones. More so than passenger vehicles, RV accidents can wreak serious havoc. A common reason RVers often drive unrested is because of noisy rest stops that are nowhere near as quiet as most campgrounds. Getting on the road with too little sleep is a major misstep if you’re driving a motorhome or trailer. Sometimes, RVers won’t stop driving until they are virtually falling asleep at the wheel. This is highly irresponsible. In fact, when operating an RV, you should be driving shorter distances and staying even more alert than behind the wheel of a passenger car. If you have long distances to drive, try stopping every 3 to 4 hours and napping for 20-30 minutes. Make sure you’re alert enough to drive after your naps.
4. Overloaded RV
You’re basically a moving disaster when you overload your RV. If you’re overloaded when you get into an accident, it will be deemed your fault. This is because overloading an RV is against the law. Your RV Insurance company may refuse to cover you after an accident caused by overloading. Your warranties may even be voided, too. Don’t base the weight of your RV on the way it looks either. You need to actually weigh your RV after it’s loaded. This is the only way to ensure you’re not a danger to yourself and others on the road. Most truck stops have scales that RVs can use, so don’t make any excuses.
5. Unevenly Loaded RV
An unevenly loaded RV is just as dangerous an overloaded one. Common sense will tell you that it can cause the vehicle to pull in one direction. This is especially true if the RV is hitched behind your vehicle. Putting too much weight on some tires and not others will also put you at risk of a tire blowout, which can be deadly, especially if you’re on the highway. If you’re lucky enough to avoid a blowout, you can still cause uneven trailer tire wear. This will put strain on your suspension and potentially cause an axle to bend. Both of these are problems you definitely want to avoid.
6. Detached Trailer
Your hitch is the most important thing on your RV if you’re pulling a trailer or even pulling a car in your RV. If the towing hitch fails, your towed vehicle can fully detach and hit other drivers. Even a partially detached tow vehicle can sway into another lane and have a deadly effect. Make sure you know how to properly secure your towed vehicle or trailer. Remember, your hitch should be secured immediately before you begin driving. For more on how to prevent sway and placing your load correctly, visit here.
Any vehicle can roll over but RVs are more prone to this worst-case scenario. This is due to their higher center of gravity. Most often, distracted and careless driving are the causes of these types of RV accidents. Speeding is another common cause of a rollover, and the majority of fatal rollovers happen at 55 miles per hour or higher. As a general rule, you should not drive more than 60 miles per hour in a motorhome or while you’re towing an RV, but you can still crash if you’re not careful. Alcohol and drug impairment are often connected with rollover accidents. Rural areas, which have few barriers, are often the site of these types of accidents too.
8. Miscalculated Turns
Cornering is quite different in an RV than in a standard car. This is because of the size of your RV and/or if you have another vehicle hitched to it. Your turns will need to be wider and slower. Taking sharp turns will result in your back tires going up on the curb or destroying someone’s lawn. Therefore, when you’re taking wide turns you should always make sure to stay in your own lane. If you’re completely new to RVing, you should spend a few hours practicing in your neighborhood before taking a long trip. If you do happen to make a miscalculated turn, you don’t want to pay for any property damages out of your own pocket. Make sure you have the proper Specialty RV Insurance to cover potential RV mishaps. If you don’t know what coverage you have, call an RV Insurance Specialist today at (866) 501-7335.
9. Miscalculated Stops
When you brake any large vehicle, it will take a while longer for it to stop than a regular car. Many inexperienced RV drivers have accidents because they don’t start braking in time. This sends the weight of the RV into the car in front, which is something you don’t want to happen. You always need to be aware of other motorists so you can brake well ahead of time. Some RVers have accidents because the braking system isn’t wired correctly from the trailer to the vehicle. Skidding due to sudden and hard braking can be deadly. An RV is much harder to get back into control than a regular car. It’s best to practice driving and braking an RV before taking it on a road trip.
10. RV Blind Spots
Your RV’s blind spots will be different from your standard car’s. Some RVs have backup cameras which are useful and recommended. But if you have to look the old-fashioned way, do a walk-around first to make sure you’re not backing up into a person, animal or object. Changing lanes is also more challenging due to the sheer size of the vehicle which has more blind spots than a car. Fifth wheelers often have the biggest blind spots so be careful if that’s the type of RV you own.
Whose Fault Is It?
It’s not always easy to tell who is at fault in an RV accident. Sometimes, a driver may be at fault. Other times the RV has a malfunction that renders it the fault of the RV manufacturer. There may also be extenuating circumstances that lead to an accident which hold the owner of the property responsible for the accident.
There are now lawyers who specialize in RV accidents. So, if you find yourself in a bind, it may be a good idea to get a consultation from an experienced attorney. All in a ll, you never know what could happen on the road. That’s why it’s good to be protected. The best way to protect yourself and your RV? The right RV Insurance.
RV Insurance is a Necessity
Standard Car Insurance is not the same as RV Insurance and it will not provide adequate coverage for an RV. That’s why it’s so important to have Specialty RV Insurance. If you are not insured properly and find yourself in an accident, you will have a financial disaster on your hands. Make sure to speak with an Insurance Specialist about your RV Insurance options at (866) 501-7335.
The information in this article was obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms, and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here. Such policy will be governed by the language contained therein.