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RV Safety Behind the Wheel & on the Road - The S.E. Farris Law Firm
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RV Safety Behind the Wheel & on the Road

Whether you’re driving an RV or you’re sharing the road with one, here’s what you should know about large recreational vehicles and how you can stay safe while traveling out of St. Louis this summer.

Airlines are taking a hit, train stations are empty, and the once monolithic mass transportation system is falling by the wayside as COVID-19 continues to be a threat. RV sales and rentals are at a record high and with many people investing in recreational vehicles and taking summer vacations on campgrounds in their campervans, motorhomes, or trailers, you should be aware of how to share the road with RVs. Whether you are driving an RV on your own or simply sharing the road with one, this information may benefit you.

Why RVs are Popular
RVs are becoming increasingly popular in today’s world. They are a cheaper means of taking a family vacation and getting away from the city for a few days at a time. RVs can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $100,00 or more, so the upfront investment of money isn’t exactly cheaper than a regular vacation. However, the average lifespan of an RV is 10-20 years so it pays for itself over time. RV rentals are also an attractive option for anyone who wants the experience of camping in the Ozarks but don’t want to shell out the money for an RV or commit to maintaining a vehicle.

Common RV Accidents
With all the benefits of RVs and the increasing number of recreational vehicles on the roads this summer, it’s important to discuss RV accidents and what causes them. One of the top causes of RV accidents is speeding. RVs are large—they can be up to 45 feet long, 9.5 feet wide, and 10 feet tall. Their large size combined with high speed makes for a dangerous combination on the road. The rule of thumb is to never go above 60 miles per hour in any sort of recreational vehicle. The higher the winds and the worse the weather, the slower you should go.

Loading trailers is a basic science, but people still make mistakes. Overloaded trailers and unevenly loaded trailers are one of the leading causes of RV accidents. It’s important to make sure you are loading a safe amount on your RV and that the weight is evenly distributed. Uneven weight leads to vehicle rollovers and overloading, while dangerous, is also illegal.

Driver fatigue is a common cause of all vehicular accidents, but it’s especially common in RV accidents. RVs are mobile homes that are meant to accommodate living, so it is easy for drivers to become too comfortable in the vehicle. A good tip for RV drivers is to take a break for half an hour approximately every 4 hours you drive or to switch off with a partner.

Lastly, blind spots and miscalculated stops cause a lot of RV accidents. Like any large vehicle, it takes RVs longer to stop than the average car and RVs have plenty of blind spots. An inexperienced driver or heavy traffic can cause an accident in the blink of an eye with all these unique factors of RVs. When you are driving an RV, make sure that you are being cautious of your vehicle’s limitations, aware of other drivers on the road, and be confident in your experience and expertise before hopping on the highway.

RV Safety for RV Drivers
Fortunately, there are ways for RV drivers to stay safe on the road and avoid accidents.

When operating an RV, you should be aware of its size, stopping time, and blind spots before cruising along I-70 or I-44. You should also be cautious of other factors when driving to avoid accidents, such as weather, the weight/load of your vehicle, and other drivers on the road. It’s common for RVs to get accused of being at fault in accidents given their large size. It’s just as important for an RV driver to know their own limitations as well as their vehicle’s—don’t be afraid to slow down and take those turns as wide as you need to, and don’t be too stubborn to stop for much-needed rest and shut-eye.

Sharing the Road with an RV
If you don’t drive an RV, chances are you will still be sharing the road with quite a few as summer comes to a close. It’s important to know what causes RV accidents so you know what to look out for when sharing the road with a mega-monster fifth wheel camper. There are a few solid safety tips you should follow before cruising down the highway or taking that last summer road trip.

First, be cognizant of RV blind spots. Much like large trucks and buses, RVs have blind spots and cannot see the rear or sides of their vehicle well. Make sure the RV driver can see you in their mirrors before attempting to pass their vehicle. A rule of thumb is that if you can’t see their side mirrors, they can’t see you. Similarly, don’t follow RVs too closely and be careful when they’re making right-hand turns.

You should treat RVs like you would semi-trucks and trailers as they have similar characteristics.  And most importantly, never cut an RV off. As discussed earlier, the stopping time for larger vehicles is longer and if you cut an RV off, they may not be able to stop in time and an accident is more likely to occur.

Keep this information in mind and stay safe on the roads this summer, no matter how you choose to get away from St. Louis. Data shows there are around 75,000 injuries due to RV accidents per year. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with an RV, contact us for a free consultation. You can call us at 314-252-9937, our toll-free number 866-955-5297, or email us at courtnotices@farrislaw.org.