Being full-time RVers, it’s extremely important that we be thorough with all of our vehicle and RV maintenance because this is our home. But also, to drive sensibly and defensively. By doing so will help us avoid roadside emergencies and accidents. Whether you drive a motorhome or pull a fifth wheel or travel trailer camper, we’ll show you how we practice safe RVing.
10 ways to avoid emergencies and accidents on the road
Never overload your motorhome, fifth wheel or travel trailer!
I put this one first for very good reason. It is the most ignored rule of driving or towing an RV. Overloading your RV has great potential of causing tire blowouts or worse, losing control of your RV and toad or tow vehicle.
Here’s a great video explanation from our friends at Curt Manufacturing. Their short video will teach you how to properly load a trailer. The most important thing to consider is how the weight of your cargo is distributed onto your trailer. The ideal distribution is to have 60% of the weight in front of the trailer axle, and 40% behind. Its also very important to make sure your cargo is secured properly. Always practice safe towing to avoid roadside emergencies and accidents.
And, want to weigh your trailer and tongue weight using your smartphone? We recommend using this mobile towing scale that is smartphone-ready with bluetooth technology, real-time weighing, zero installation, and other features that encourage safe towing. Check out our video interview that explains how the Better Weigh Mobile Towing Scale works.
Watch your speed
Driving at excessive speeds is one of the leading causes of RV accidents. We all want to get there but it’s better to be late than never. Sometimes we tend to forget that we’re pushing or pulling tens of thousands of pounds.
Be aware that it’s not only about following the law but also what your vehicles can handle. Tires have what you call a ‘speed rating’ and those numbers play an important part of safe towing as well as vehicle performance.
According to Les Schwab website…
There’s no better way to say it but SLOW DOWN! It’s best to stay within that speed rating to avoid tire blowouts or losing control of your vehicle and/or RV that will cause an accident.
High winds? It’s best to park it!
The biggest pain in the behind while driving or pulling an RV down the road is high winds. Regardless of how big or heavy your RV is, wind can affect not only the way your vehicle and RV’s handling but also your driving ability. Driving for long periods of time could result in driver fatigue. Therefore, take breaks often.
Pay attention to the weather forecasts. Be aware that certain seasons render storms that pack some pretty punchy winds. I can attest, nothing is scarier than crossing a bridge or overpass with a crosswind or gust when pulling a fifth wheel or driving our Class C motorhome. If the wind nears the 30mph velocity, go visit the campground office and add another day or if you’re out boondocking, enjoy being rocked to sleep. Don’t take a chance on becoming the wind storm’s victim.
If you’ve been a cross country traveler, whether it be in an RV or single vehicle, you know in certain regions in the country, fuel stations may be sparse. It’s wise to refuel often so you’re not left on the side of the road or in a less-than-desirable location calling for roadside assistance. We recommend downloading the Gas Buddy cellphone app to keep updated on fuel availability and current cost.
When we had our fifth wheel, we elongated our fuel range by installing a 38-gallon auxiliary tank in the bed of our Ram 3500 truck. It added over 300 miles to our range of travel.
Pay attention to where you’re fueling your RV or vehicle. If the pumps and area looks rusty and unkempt, chances are, the fuel tanks are of the same. The last thing you need is dirt or rust particles or water in your fuel tanks.
Vehicle and RV Maintenance
We can’t stress enough to you how important it is to check your RV or vehicle’s oil and coolant levels regularly. Don’t rely strictly on your gauges; they have been known to lie. Make certain you adhere to a solid maintenance schedule in accordance to your vehicle’s or RV owner’s manual. This includes brake, power steering, coolant, oil and transmission fluids and applicable filters.
Also keep an eye on your windshield washer fluid and replace your windshield wipers often. Dirt, oil and fluids will break down the rubber wiper blades thus not work efficiently when you need them most. By not keeping your windshield clean, each time you use those wipers, you’re essentially etching your RV’s windshield with the dirt, dust and grit. This type of wear may distort or cause even more road glare. We recommend cleaning your windshield before every trip. Your passenger photographer will appreciate it too!
Oh! And don’t forget to keep an eye on your diesel engine’s DEF (diesel exhaust fluid) if your RV or tow vehicle requires it. May we recommend keeping an extra container of DEF in your cargo compartment or truck bed if you can afford the space and weight.
Pay close attention to tire wear and tear
Before getting in the drivers seat, you should always check your tires and I don’t mean just by kicking them. Before each trip, get on your hands and knees to inspect them. Look for scuffs, bubbles, blisters, cuts, cracks and missing tread. Do the penny test as we explained on our Basic RV Tire Safety and Maintenance Tips. Also, check for proper tire pressure and wear patterns. Oh, and look for screws, nails or other sharp objects that may have embedded into your vehicle or RV tires. If you notice one, DO NOT pull it out. Head straight for a tire store to see if it can be plugged.
Also, when we’re on the road, we rely on our TST Tire pressure monitoring system. It allows us to monitor each tire’s pressure and temperature during transit. It has an audible and visual alarm should one or more our tires have issue. It’s that piece of mind that could help save us from disaster down the road.
Simple tire inspections and maintenance may alleviate roadside emergencies and accidents.
Plan and know your route
You’ll want to program your GPS with your destination, rest and fuel stops. If you have a RV specific GPS like ours, plug in your RV’s height, weight and length. That way, your GPS will route you accordingly to avoid low clearances, obstructions and business routes.
As well, you may want to compare your GPS route with a trucker atlas like we do to avoid those low overheads or clearances.
Ditch the distractions
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents today. If you need to talk or text on the phone or even eat a sammich, park it! Don’t be in such a hurry that you put yourself, your family or others on the road in dangerous situations by looking at or sending a text or looking for a napkin to wipe the ketchup off your chin. This also goes for fussing with your GPS or radio.
Our rule is the driver does just that: DRIVE. The passenger controls the radio, GPS and even the temperature in the cockpit. We also make it a point to pull over to enjoy a bite instead of trying to balance a drink or bag of chips.
Get proper rest
It’s important that the driver be fully rested before sitting in the cockpit. This also means being properly nourished and hydrated. Take frequent rest stops to grab a sandwich or snack. Its a good idea to stretch your legs and back. Walk for 5-10 minutes to get your circulation going in your legs. Also, fresh air is a good eye opener.
Tune into weather stations
Last but certainly not least, you need to tune into the weather while you’re enroute as well as your future destination. The last thing you want to do is drive into a thunderstorm, blizzard or tornado! We check our weather app on our phones the night before and right before we put the key in the ignition. If the skies start to look different, we recheck the weather during our drive. Special weather alerts are programmed on our phones to let us know if there is impending inclement weather on our horizon.
Check out our RV Tips for Weather Emergencies so you know what to expect and what to do.
Now that we’ve concluded our 10 ways to avoid roadside emergencies and accidents, you may also want to check out our Must-Have RV Roadside Emergency and Safety Gear. We’ll show you what gear and tools you’ll need to help keep you safe during roadside emergencies and accidents.
So, now that you’ve read our seven simple ways to avoid emergencies and accidents on the road, let’s be safe out there? Simply take the time to be proactive about not only keeping yourself, your family and RV safe on the road but also, the rest of us. Take care of your vehicles, be well rested, ditch the distractions and drive defensively and sensibly. Yellowstone and the Tetons have been there a million years, they’ll be there a million more so no need to hurry.
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