As everyone excitedly waves goodbye to 2020 – the year forever associated with the outbreak of a global pandemic – one thing has become increasingly clear: The virus does not abide by an annual cycle.
The calendar year is coming to a close, and the fiscal year has a few months remaining, yet the coronavirus shows no signs of stopping – at least not yet. The new vaccine could change that, though. Americans are getting antsy following nine-plus months of varying shelter-in-place orders, lockdowns, shutdowns and closures accompanied by a depressing lack of social events. They are seeking other climes in the safest way possible, which is not on airplanes, cruise ships or public railways but instead in campers and recreational vehicles with members of their immediate households.
“Recreational vehicles (RV) of all kinds including camper vans, fifth wheels, motor homes and toy haulers are a very popular way to travel and vacation all across North America,” a Fifth Wheel St article states. “RV accidents are a real risk, however, as they are prone to problems such as blind spots, extended braking distance and lack of maneuverability. Federal law requires that all SUVs, charter buses and semi-trucks go through crash and rollover tests but obviously accidents can happen anyway.”
With the spike in RV travel comes a spike in RV accidents. It is an unfortunate statistical certainty summed up in the Wall Street Journal headline “Rookie RV Drivers Jam America’s Roads – Watch Out.”
“There are many common causes of RV accidents; one of the biggest problems is the fact that states do not require that drivers receive special training or permits to drive an RV, although drivers must be 21 years old,” according to the Fifth Wheel St article. “Also, 10 percent of RV drivers are senior citizens over the age of 55. This age cohort has increased impediments to driving such as weakening vision and delayed response to driving conditions.”
Many RV accidents are linked to tire issues, namely explosions.
“Blowouts are no fun, especially if one happens to a front tire,” states a Huffington Post story titled “Renting Or Buying An RV This Summer? These 16 Tips Will Keep You Safe And Sane.” “Maintaining and replacing tires is key to staying safe on the road. “Keep in mind that even if the tread looks great, you may still need to replace tires that are too old. Sitting around with exposure to heat and dry air can cause the walls of your tires to break down, so plan to replace them every five to seven years.”
Other RV accidents are caused by avoidable errors such as speeding, fatigued and / or overtired drivers, loading too much weight, poorly balanced weight and a lack of awareness about blind spots. The latter can add to the lack of maneuverability or, worse, make a mess of it.
“Dave Huber, general manager of River Run RV Resort, said the most common argument he witnesses among customers is when attempting to back up their RVs,” according to The Huffington Post story. “No matter what type of RV you rent or buy, he said, you should practice backing up and understanding your turning radius in an empty parking lot before you head out. A couple of key concepts to learn are offtracking and rear overhang, both of which can cause you to bang into or run over obstacles if you aren’t careful.
“Second, if you’ll be traveling with a partner or spouse, Huber said you should also practice your communication,” the story continues. “If your rig doesn’t have a backup camera, there are great after-market options to fix this problem and they’re well worth the money, he added.”
RV accidents sometimes are at the mercy of road and weather conditions and no matter how experienced the driver is cannot be avoided. High winds and heavy rains, for example, can cause campers to experience runaway behaviors like swerving and tilting that pose extreme dangers to other motorists. Rollovers in RVs can occur in bad conditions, and often those outcomes are deadly. RVshare offers words of wisdom as folks head out on their own during the COVID-19 crisis:
“Be vigilant. Stay alert. Allow plenty of room between your vehicle and the one you are following. Make wide turns, and make sure to always wear your seatbelt. Try to know the area you plan to be driving in, and remove all distractions. Keep your insurance up-to-date. Please be safe, and share this with your friends and family members who may find themselves traveling. You might be saving their lives, or the lives of other people on the road.”
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