RVing is a fun and safe family activity, especially when you practice RV safety. Here are some safety tips that we have put together to help you get the best of your travels and help ensure many more fun family trips and adventures.
- Keep a safe distance – You should leave at least two unit lengths between yourself and the vehicle in front of you. For example, if your truck is 18′ long and your unit is 32′ long, you should maintain a minimum of 100′ between yourself and the vehicle in front of you. Remember, it takes a lot more distance to stop your RV than it does a passenger car.
- Follow all the signs and rules as they pertain to trucks. Yellow caution signs for speed limits on turns and intersections are there for your safety and following them will help keep you out of trouble.
- When driving down steep inclines, follow the guidelines for commercial vehicles:
- Use a lower gear and find your safe speed before beginning down the grade
- Start on the grade at your safe speed. When you reach five MPH above the safe speed, brake hard enough over five seconds to get you back town to your safe speed. Continue this process as you travel down the grade to prevent your brakes from overheating and your rig from getting away from you
- Stay in the right lane when traveling whenever possible. This allows faster vehicles to safely pass you on the left.
- Stop every 200 miles or four hours to do a safety check of your unit and anything that you are towing. This will often give you advance warning of issues before they become a real problem.
Propane – All RVs carry propane on board. Propane is a volatile and explosive gas so safety is of utmost importance. Since propane is an odorless gas, an additive is added to it to give it the smell of rotten eggs. Here are some tips to ensure safety when dealing with propane
- If you ever smell propane, immediately evacuate your RV and air it out before reentering. Find the source of the propane leak and take care of it before reentering your unit.
- Always turn off all appliances that use propane such as refrigerators and furnaces when refueling your unit or tow vehicle.
- Always turn off all appliances that use propane and turn off the main propane valve before driving through tunnels.
Tow Rigs – not all trucks are created equally even though they look the same on the outside. Before towing an RV, make sure you have researched your tow rig to ensure that it can safely tow, and most importantly stop, when needed. Items such as rear gear ratio and the amount of cargo you are carrying significantly impact your ability to safely tow an RV.
You should know the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of your RV and your tow vehicle. This is the maximum weight recommended by the manufacturer. Additionally you should know the Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of your motorhome or tow vehicle. This is the maximum allowed weight of the tow vehicle, whatever is being towed, and all of the cargo including passengers. Any weight above the GCWR is unsafe to operate.
Towing – Travel trailers can be a handful when driving in cross-winds and on the interstate when you have large wind disturbances like those around large trucks. We found that the handling of your rig when towing a travel trailer is noticeably improved if you open one window on either side of the travel trailer. That allows some air to flow through the travel trailer and minimize it acting like a large sail behind your towing rig.
Before towing a travel trailer, ensure that your hitch is setup properly. When hooked up properly, the chassis of both the tow vehicle and the travel trailer should be nearly parallel to the ground when parked on a level surface. If the tongue of the travel trailer rides too high or too low, it causes extra wear and tear on the suspension. Additionally the axles and tires will often be overloaded leading to catastrophic failure of the tires or suspension.