One of the biggest culprits of RV crashes is driver fatigue. But, by implementing the RV 3-3-3 rule, you and your fellow RV travelers will be safer, on schedule, and enjoy the journey just as much as the destination. The 3-3-3 rule of RVing is all about staying safe on the road as well as the whole reason of why you’re RVing in the first place.
During the first year of full-time RVing, there’s a certain premise new RVers get when it’s time to throw off the bow lines for the first time. We all get that typical euphoric feeling of being footloose and fancy free. We want to see it all, do it all, and experience it all NOW.
I’m sure you’ve seen motorhomes or campers zipping past you on the highway sporting one of those sticker maps showing all the states they’ve visited in less than 6 months.
And oftentimes, RVers post on social media groups bragging “I traveled 15,000 miles, stayed in 50 different campgrounds, went to 20 National Parks; all in 3 months!”
Coming from a seasoned RVer’s perspective, I tend to chuckle and think ‘what’s their hurry’?
They barely put their RV leveling jacks down and slide out only to pack up their RVs to head down the road to their next destination.
Now, I get that we all RV differently. But, I’m here to say though, wizzing from one destination to another with very little thought of time, speed and distance eventually gets you into trouble. And, it will bring you disappointment.
Fast track RVing not only makes the driver (and crew) tired, it’s also stressful and dangerous.you’ll miss something that may cause a breakdown along side the road.
Now, unless you’re purposely punching a one-way ticket to heaven, there’s absolutely no need to put such a demand on you and/or your travel companions. RVing is supposed to be about enjoying the journey as much as the destination. And, it’s about making memories…good ones.
This is where the RV 3-3-3 rule comes in. And, once you learn how that 3-3-3 rule of RVing works, you’ll understand why it’s so important to not only you and your family, but everyone else on the road with you.
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How the RV 3-3-3 Rule Can Save Your Life on the Road!
The RV 3-3-3 rule is about 3 important guidelines that help to make your RVing adventure and journey a more pleasant experience.
So, what exactly does the 3-3-3 rule of RVing stand for? Simple, it’s 300 miles, 3:00 p.m. and 3 days.
RV 3-3-3 Rule: 300 Miles
Remember when we were younger driving cross country in our comfy little red sports car? Because of time restraints, we forced ourselves to drive balls to the wall to get as many miles under our belts so we had more time at our destination. Well, I’m here to say, you really
can’t shouldn’t do that when you’re driving a big ole motorhome or pulling a travel trailer.
There is a huge difference between driving a small little sports car versus a 40,000 pound Class A motorhome or pulling a 17,000 pound fifth wheel. This is precisely why there are federal mandates for professional truck drivers on how many miles they drive and hours they’re sitting in the driver’s seat.
Driving or pulling larger vehicles takes a high level of concentration, alertness, and patience. It’s more physically and mentally demanding than sitting in a car that can zip in and out of traffic. Driver fatigue is a real thing.
So, the first part of the RV 3-3-3 rule is many seasoned RV travelers like ourselves have found that a 300 mile travel day is actually a sweet spot number for RV travel.
Driving a motorhome or pulling a big honkin’ 2 or 3 axel trailer should only be driven based on what your tires are rated for. Most trailer tires are rated for no more than 65 miles per hour.
If you have to make some mileage, that makes for a long day.
And, if you drive faster, you’re significantly increasing your odds of causing an accident or tire blowout.
Hypothetically, if you drive your motorhome at a constant 65 mph, it’s going to take at least 4 1/2 hours to arrive at your destination. Now, unless you’re literally driving exit to exit on the freeway, it’s going to take you much longer because of traffic, road construction, unforeseen accidents, fuel stops, potty breaks, etc.
By limiting your travel day to 300 miles, you’re allowing yourself time to stop to stretch your legs, give your eyes and brain a rest, eat and go pee.
After about 300 miles, a driver’s cognizance declines. The driver becomes tired and starts to lose focus and become easily distracted due to boredom and repetition. Reasoning and judgement are compromised.
It’s pretty clear that nodding off at the wheel is dangerous. But is driving tired really as dangerous as driving under the influence? The answer is resoundingly YES!
Tired driving is impaired driving!
you’re going to suffer road fatigue; especially in higher traffic areas.
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RV 3-3-3 Rule: 3:00 p.m.
Now, reiterating my hypothetical driving day of 300 miles, it’s going to take you much longer than 4.5 hours to arrive to the campground or destination safely.
Let’s say throughout your travel day, you take a 30-minute lunch break, three 10-minute leg-stretching potty breaks, a 15-20 minute fuel stop, and a stagnant traffic jam that sets you back about 30 minutes to an hour. You’ll need to tack an additional 2-3 hours to that 4.5 hours to accommodate those extra necessary allowances putting you on the road for about 7 hours.
Now, this is what comes down to figuring out what time you want to arrive at your next destination; whether it’s the campground or RV park, attraction, point of interest, etc.
Seemingly, most experienced or seasoned RVers, like ourselves, have found 3:00 p.m. is again, that sweet spot. This allows time to get your RV set up at the campground before dark. Your kids can enjoy a swim at the pool and/or you can enjoy a happy hour cocktail before dinner.
But, for that 3:00 p.m. part of the RV 3-3-3 rule to work, you’ll need to leave your previous destination at no later than 8:00 a.m. As you see, even that makes for a long travel day; hence why 3:00 p.m. arrival is perfect time to unwind and still enjoy the rest of the day.
♦ PRO TIP ♦ Learn more RV Driving Tips: Staying Alert and Healthy on the Road
RV 3-3-3 Rule: 3 Days
The last of the RV 3-3-3 rule is 3 days. Now, we realize there’s some destinations where 1 or even 2 days is plenty to see or do. But remember, your journey or adventure is not only about seeing and doing everything. It’s also about rest so you can be at your prime for your next destination.
To make the most of your RV vacation and not suffer road fatigue or even travel burnout, you need to comfortably space your stays and destinations over the span of at least 3 days at each destination.
This also allows you to not only enjoy the destination but to also visit friends, receive mail or packages, or take care of incidentals, it also allows you ample time to rest and catch your breath between long driving days.
♦ PRO TIP ♦ Learn more Money Saving RV Travel Tips: How to Cut Costs on the Road
Benefits of the 3-3-3 rule
- The 333 rule helps to minimize stress from driving to arriving.
- Provides a plan or itinerary to follow to keep your travel day organized.
- Your travel partner or companions know exactly what to expect as to when you’re leaving, taking breaks, how long you’ll be driving and when you’ll be parking for the night.
- Accommodates daytime driving, arrival and campsite setup.
- Eliminates after dark or night time breakdowns or emergencies
- Allows meal planning and continuity of meal times.
- Doesn’t over-work your RV for long periods of time.
- Ensures you’ll find fuel stations that are open
Other RV driving safety rules
All of that said, the RV 3/3/3 rule is not etched in stone. Nor is it the law of RVing. In fact, there’s a few other RV rules of the road that may suit your personal traveling style.
For example, there’s also the RV 2-2-2 rule and 4-4-4 rule of RVing replicates the 3-3-3 rule.
The RV 2-2-2 rule dictates 200 miles, arrive by 2:00 p.m. and a 2 day stay.
Whereas the RV 4-4-4 rule elongates travel to driving 400 miles per day, arriving by 4:00 p.m. and staying for 4 days.
But, there are RVers, especially solo RVers or couples, who don’t have many restrictions such as traveling with children and/or pets are apt to move faster, drive farther and stay for shorter or longer stints.
Some RVers prefer to sleep in and check out late while others are up with the sun and at the campground at check-in time.
That said, those who prefer to RV by the seat of their pants or don’t make reservations may find themselves out of luck finding a campsite. This is why using a good RV travel tool like RV Life Pro’s RV Life Trip Wizard helps take the stress out of traveling no matter which plan you opt for.
♦ PRO TIP ♦ Learn more Lifesaving RV Safety Tips to Keep You Safe on the Road
15 Signs of Driver Fatigue
Drowsiness and alcohol present the same impairment effects on the brain and body.
- Visible impairment (see above)
- Irritability and restlessness
- Erratic behavior
- Poor concentration
- Loosing sense of direction
- Frequent yawning and head nodding
- Visual impairment, eye rubbing
- Difficulty in keeping eyes open
- Slow or delay in reaction
- Following other vehicles too closely
- Improper or unsafe lane changes
- Illegal or improper turns
- Scraping curbs or crossing lane lines
Wrap Up of the RV 3-3-3 rule
Regardless if you’re a full-time RV traveler, renting an RV for a couple weeks or trekking off for the ultimate RV vacation, the 333 rule of RVing is as important as the destination itself. RVing is not about jumping in the driver’s seat of your motorhome or tow vehicle to drive as fast and as far as you can.
So, recapping, the RV 3-3-3 rule broken down is to 1) drive no more than 300 miles each travel day, 2) arrive no later than 3:00 p.m. and 3) stay parked for 3 days.
This RV driving rule helps to make your RV adventure safer. But also, you and your fellow travelers will enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
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