Before driving RV, please engage brain

58

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Photo: base image, https://www.cgpgrey.com/

Traveling by car to an appointment in the “big city” of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, we noticed with some alarm as a commercial truck pulled out into the “suicide lane” to pass a vehicle. Since a commercial driver’s license is a pretty-much coveted possession of truck drivers, it seemed to us an unusually provocative move, taking a big risk needlessly. What on earth could have caused him or her to act with such blatant stupidity?

It didn’t take long to figure it out. We spotted, through a long line of cars, just what it was the trucker passed – a big Class A motorhome with a toad car behind him. Traffic was building up behind the RV, poking along at about 45 in a 55 mph zone, but we were assured this would surely end soon, as there was a long, wide, pullout about a mile ahead — which the RVer simply rolled on past.

Shortly thereafter we hit a 65 mph zone, and by this time, Mr. Pokey had somehow managed to slow his rig down to 42. A frustrated auto driver had enough — he whipped out around the motorhome, and came close enough to “head-on’ing” oncoming traffic that it pretty near caused heart palpitations in our car, just watching it. Others were emboldened to similar acts. Happily no more close calls ensued but, finally, we were two rigs behind the motorhomer. The pilot in the big rig just kept right on plugging along, never hitting more than about 53 miles per hour, and passing plenty of long and wide stretches of paved shoulder that would have made the perfect out.

As we were headed to an appointment, we watched with no little anxiety as the “ETA” clock on our GPS unit showed we had lost at least four minutes since our first encounter with the lumbering recreational limo. Finally, a two-lane portion of the highway opened up, and we were able to get around this bozo —along with about 15 more cars stacked up behind.

We’ve said it more than once over the years: When you get behind the wheel of a motorhome or a towing rig, you put yourself up as a representative of the rest of the RV community. Like it or not, to the average non-RVer, you’ve seen one RV, you’ve seen ’em all. Being RVers, we have empathy for fellow RVers who may struggle with climbing a grade, or dealing with twisty curves with a long, wide rig. But even with that empathy, I gotta confess, I still had some rather nasty thoughts about the lack of consideration of this character. I can only imagine the colorful language that must have been sent his way by others in the big parade we shared for some long miles. For heaven’s sake, DON’T NEEDLESSLY IMPEDE TRAFFIC.

[Editor: Another consideration — We’re not sure about all states, but in Washington state, RCW 46.61.427 provides: Slow-moving vehicle to pull off roadway. On a two-lane highway where passing is unsafe because of traffic in the opposite direction or other conditions, a slow moving vehicle, behind which five or more vehicles are formed in a line, shall turn off the roadway wherever sufficient area for a safe turn-out exists, in order to permit the vehicles following to proceed. As used in this section a slow moving vehicle is one which is proceeding at a rate of speed less than the normal flow of traffic at the particular time and place.]

##RVT798 ##RVDT1331

 

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Thomas Champagne
2 months ago

DUH ! This is what’s called common courtesy. I would have expected today’s generation of “Horay for me the hell with you ” attitude to be that way but not a “Baby boomer” where we were all taught by our parents to be on the lookout for how our actions effected others. Like being in a super market and placing your shopping cart in the middle of the aisle to bend down and read a label ! So very sad !

Irv Goomba
2 months ago

Perhaps we should also call this article “Before hitting the road, take a Xanax”. Getting all nasty over this driver was childish. Blame the impatient passers for endangerment of others.

Rory R
2 months ago

I agree with your frustration and agree that this driver should have pulled over to let backed up traffic pass, whether or not they are driving at a speed that is over/under the limit. This driver’s actions were definitely inconsiderate, he had to have noticed the near crashes. That should have alerted him. He is probably one of those drivers who feels that I’m not speeding and you shouldn’t be either, which is also wrong. The only law enforcement on the hwy are trained peace officers not “Dudley do rights”. And while I’m on this rant, let’s get to you. Your attitudes are squarely on display, when you use phrases like “big ol” and “lumbering recreational limo”.. So sorry you lost ” at least four minutes”, that really must have been a bummer…….

Carol-Leah Loran
2 months ago

I think we were behind this person north of Yuma. We are in a motorhome with a toad and usually drive 62 to 65 mph. This bozo was going 40 mph on a very long straight stretch of road and gave not one whit about how many people were behind him. Because we were also in a motorhome I was VERY embarrassed. After approximately 45 minutes of this we were able to pass. Self absorbed idiot.

Lori
2 months ago

Since most cars totally ignore “speed limit” signs, does that really mean that folks driving at or slightly above the speed limit should pull over so cars can illegally speed by? How many RVers realize that there are speed limits for your tires, above which, if you’re in an accident, the tire company is held blameless? What about AZ? We all know that 75 mph is the speed limit outside of city limits in at least many areas. Do you really want to go 75 in your MH? Does it matter that it takes a MH two to three times as many feet to stop than a car? I go the speed limit on wide open roads but will not endanger myself or others by going above 65 ever. If you’re in that big a hurry and have oodles of money to spend on the extra gas it takes to go at high speeds, go for it. I’ll watch as I go by while they’re picking pieces of you off the pavement.

Ron V
2 months ago
Reply to  Lori

There are 65 MPH two lane roads in AZ but I don’t believe there are any 75 MPH two lane roads. I pull a 5th wheel at 65 MPH on the freeway and the two lane roads when safe to do so. I will also pull over on a two lane road if an opportunity presents itself and there is a line of cars behind me.

Carson Axtell
2 months ago

I’ll bet that same driver who doesn’t give a damn about the traffic he’s holding up is the same type who sees no problem with running his generator all night so he can watch late night TV and run his A/C. A society in which people don’t care about their fellow citizens is a broken one…

Dave J
2 months ago

Then there’s California where if you are towing anything (your toad) you are legally limited to 55 mph even if the highway is a 70 mph road.

Rory R
2 months ago
Reply to  Dave J

Actually I agree with that law, as I have been near drivers on a hwy towing a small storage trailer driving at 75 – 80 mph with the trailer whipping right and left like it’s ready to take-off and flip over. I always back off from these guys no matter what kind of vehicle I’m driving…

tim
2 months ago

remember when you were the only car driving behind the slow poke. and it’s unsafe to pass. you get frustrated that you have to wait for 4 more cars. which could be awhile since it is not a well traveled road. i don’t let that happen. i will safely pull out and let the one car by. most times i don’t have to stop completely.

Bob p
2 months ago

To add to everything, the old adage “You can never find a cop when you need one”. In this day of cell phones why didn’t you call the highway patrol or county sheriff to report this idiot who was endangering other people’s lives?

Irv Goomba
2 months ago
Reply to  Bob p

He’s not endangering lives, it’s buttheads that try to pass when it’s not safe to. If someone is doing 45 in a 55 tough. It doesn’t give you the right to drive like an idiot and pass recklessly. Two wrongs don’t only NOT make a right, it could cause a death. Calm down, be safe.

Sink Jaxon
2 months ago

It’s a balance, let’s all just do our best to be considerate.

Will
2 months ago

And to add to the discussion, if you are on a multi-lane highway and slow traffic in any lane but the far right lane, even if you’re doing the speed line, you’ll get the attention of the cops.

In my home state of California, if you’re doing 80 mph in the #1 lane of a freeway, and you’re blocking traffic, you could get a ticket.

So you self-centered folks who think they have a god given right to go the speed limit and block traffic, think again.

Tommy Molnar
2 months ago
Reply to  Will

Will, I have to think if I’m doing 80 mph (and I doubt there is an 80 mph limit ANYwhere in CA – but I could be wrong because I don’t travel in CA anymore), I’m going to get a ticket for going over the limit but holding up folks that want to go 90?

Ken Longden
2 months ago
Reply to  Will

As speed limits in California are absolute, what is the legitimate excuse for non-emergency drivers to exceed them?

Rory R
2 months ago
Reply to  Ken Longden

Speed limits may be absolute but many CHP officers don’t stop you unless you are driving dangerously, such as whipping from lane to lane, passing on the right or on the shoulder. My neighbor got a ticket while driving 70 mph in the HOV lane for obstructing traffic.

Tony Sauer
2 months ago

In California you MUST use turnouts and pull over to the right when safe if you have five or more vehicles behind you. I have seen similar signs in other states. I grew up in a family of log truck drivers, and failure to let cars past when you were slowing people down on a hill would result in a stern talking to by my father.

Donald N Wright
2 months ago

I have learned to pull over on the shoulder at a regular basis as I only drive sixty when pulling my Aliner with it’s doughnut tires. Pullouts are a blessing for all of us.

Randy
2 years ago

I agree with those that say, use pullouts when available. But there are times when they not available. I do try to pull to the right to give a driver extra room to pass, only after I determined it is safe to do so. I have followed class A and 18 wheelers from behind, and it pretty hard to see the road situations in front of them. Be safe

Sherry Dawson
2 years ago

Having lived and driven mostly in east coast states from Maine to Florida, I’ve never noticed a pull-out on a two lane road. What do you do when there is a long stretch of two-lane road with no place to pull out, turn off, or exit?

alcomechanic
2 months ago
Reply to  Sherry Dawson

Then when I get to a town, I’ll pull over or go around the block to let the traffic by, However, if it’s a long stretch of two lane , and there’s no place to pull off, the others are going to have to wait until there is some place safe for me to pull off!

CJG
3 years ago

One of the most satisfying sights was being in a line on hwy. 1 north of LA behind a slow RV and having a cop join the line. The moment a car came behind him to make ten in the line he was out with lights and siren to pull over the RV. You could almost hear everyone cheering. Yes, I drive my RV less than the speed limit at times but I do think of those behind me and make sure they can pass safely or I pull over.

Terry
2 years ago
Reply to  CJG

Being a considerate driver is important. Unfortunately, many others are on the road to make it as difficult as they can on others.

Ron
2 months ago
Reply to  CJG

I believe the law in California requires only 5 vehicles behind to require pulling over…not 10.

Michael McCracken
3 years ago

Russ and Tina,
Good post. This RV driver had no excuse for his actions. One exception I might add. Several states have the pull off rule if five or more cars are behind you. I always try to obey this law, however in certain high traffic areas, you would be pulling over constantly. I had this situation in Colorado. Sorry to say if I were to get to my destination, I had to ignore this law. This certainly was not the situation in this case. This RVer needs to stay off the road.

Bob Godfrey
2 months ago

Another consideration is attempting to pull back into a flow of traffic if there is a long line of cars. Pulling over is very thoughtful but not if you cannot return to the lineup.

Edward Wullschleger
2 months ago

I’ve lived in Colorado all my life and I’ve been towing my 21′ travel trailer here for the last 6 years. I don’t know of any 2-lane road here that is so busy that using a pullout area will significantly slow down your travel when you’re already holding up traffic. I would say that if you’re on a road in Colorado where paved pullouts exist, and you’re backing up traffic, then you should use one at least every 10 minutes or so. If you’re doing 40 miles an hour, that’s 7 miles between each pullout you take.

However, the busiest and most dangerous road that I know in Colorado is U. S. 285 across South Park, simply because it has infrequent passing lanes and no actual pullouts except for the parking areas in the few towns along that route. The speed limit across most of that section is 65 mph. Most cars won’t pass you if you can do that speed limit, but there are still many that will. I try to avoid that highway during high traffic periods (i.e., weekends.)

Another one to be careful with is U. S. 160 from the bottom of La Veta pass, west to Alamosa, but it’s not quite so busy. It also has occasional passing lanes without any actual pullouts.

Loneoutdoorsman
3 years ago

Slow RVs don’t cause wrecks–in a hurry idiots who pass when they shouldn’t cause wrecks. Ey don’t call these accidents because they are “on purposes” or wrecks.
The RV mantra is “Dont let the guy behind you tell you how to drive.” Ey usually drive exactly the speed limit, especially in construction zones and National Parks. Ey pull over only when safe. Ey am looking for a bumper sticker that says “yes I CAN drive any slower” with a four letter word stuck in there somewhere.
Burn Diesel and Keep on Truckin. Hi Diane
The Loneoutdoorsman

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
3 years ago

Hey, Loneoutdoorsman,
How’s it going? Do you feel like I’m looking over your shoulder as you’re writing? You’re doing fine — thanks. 😀
Been to the Polebridge Mercantile lately? Whenever I see bearclaws in the bakery I think of you. 😉
And yep … Keep on truckin’. —Diane at RVtravel.com aka Mountain Mama

Anonymous
3 years ago

Most the time when you see a large RV whether it is a trailer or motor-home, people generally forget that the stopping distance for those large rigs are at least three times longer or more than a normal car. It is like you stopping on the railroad tracks and expecting the train to stop because you are there first. They can’t stop for several miles.

Granted everyone should be considerate when in the large rigs and keep your eye out for situations where you can pull over safely to keep the traffic flowing. Sometimes not all slow lanes are marked so a large rig can safely pull over into it without having a problem getting there. This is where the general public should get involved with writing to their congressman to get signs put up on the highways showing where these lanes are in advance so the large rigs can get out of the way and not be a traffic nuisance.

squeakytiki
3 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

“…stopping distance for those large rigs are at least three times longer or more than a normal car”
I picked up my motorhome in April of this year, and in the few short months I’ve been driving it I’ve developed a whole new respect for truck and bus drivers. I’m also very much considering getting a dash cam all because of how many close calls I’ve seen/experienced. It probably doesn’t help that I live in a major city known for it’s traffic issues to begin with.

CTK
2 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

SO true re: for pull-outs. There have been many times I’ve want to pull off for traffic to pass, but came upon the actual turn-out too fast to safely pull off bcause there was no sign.

AKtravler
3 years ago

Making excuses for the slow driver, you overlook the dangers. If everyone is going over the speed limit and a car is trying to drive at a slower pace, it can be passed, generally safely. But a motorhome with a toad or a fifthwheel cannot be passed as easily or as safely especially on windy roads. We drive usually up there with the traffic but because we are 50′ plus…. if it appears we have someone behind us that is wanting to pass we pull over. The law in Alaska is 5 vehicle behind you pull over.

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
3 years ago
Reply to  AKtravler

That’s the law in Washington, as well, AKtravler. I’m sure it’s the same or similar in most, if not all, of the states. Thanks for your input. —Diane at RVtravel.com

Cel
3 years ago
Reply to  RV Staff

That’s the law in California, also. And it should be obeyed.

Terry
2 years ago
Reply to  AKtravler

The Rules of the Road direct the driver to determine safety, not the people around you.