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Around the campfire: How fast do you drive when towing your RV?

How fast do you drive when you’re towing your RV? This was the question posed to the campfire crowd a few nights ago. A robust discussion followed. My husband told the others that we usually stick to the speed limit or a bit below, depending on road and weather conditions.

We’ve not towed our rig on highways that post 75 mph like those in Nebraska, North Dakota, New Mexico, and others. Nor have we towed our RV through Nevada, Montana, South Dakota, or Oklahoma. Some roadways in these states post an 80 mph limit. Yowie! That seems really fast to me. Especially when I think about having to stop a 38+foot RV. Not everyone agrees, however. Everyone seems to differ on the speeds they drive when towing their RV.

Getting there fast

Friends from California commented: “The speed limit may say 60 mph, but if every other vehicle on the road is going 75+mph, we’ll go faster than the 60 mph posted limit. We don’t want to be a hazard to the speeders. We feel safer staying with the flow of traffic rather than chance being rear-ended.”

Sandy agreed: “If you drive the speed limit in California, you are a danger to others on the highway. If you don’t keep up with traffic, you’ll be pushed out of the way.” (I think she was exaggerating a bit, but we all understood her point.)

Another Western states driver said, “I will usually drive about 5 mph over the posted speed limit. But I keep my rig in top mechanical condition. I always install the best tires my money can buy and so far I’ve gotten along really well.”

Allen, from Georgia, joked: “How fast do I drive my RV? Depends on if I’m running late and in charge of bringing the beer.” (Always one jokester in the crowd, right?)

Going slow

Bernie shook his head. “You all are going way too fast. Have you ever seen what happens when an RVer loses control of his rig? It’s not pretty. I try to stay 5 mph below the speed limit. And I never go faster than 60 mph. Ever.”

Retired and long-time RVers commented: “We take our time. We’re in no hurry. Yes, others pass us. But we like the ‘travel’ part of RVing just as much as being parked on our site.”

Candice and her husband are new to RVing. Candice offered, “I don’t feel comfortable exceeding the speed limit. I’d rather go slower and not tear up our new rig.” Others around the fire nodded at this rationale. We agreed that many of our nation’s highways are in very rough shape. Hitting a pothole at 55 mph as opposed to 75 mph could mean the difference between extensive damage and little to no damage at all.

Conditions, conditions, conditions!

Wet or snow-packed roadways called for slower speeds when towing an RV, agreed all around the campfire. Same goes for curves and turns. Wind speed and weather conditions also play into most RVers’ decisions on how fast to drive their RV.

One RVer commented: “If you are familiar with the road, and conditions are good, you might be okay to exceed the speed limit by a little. But you risk getting a ticket. The time lost talking to a Highway Patrol Officer cannot be redeemed. And the cost of the ticket is money you might have used for something else. It’s just not worth it.”

Cost savings

Several folks admitted to driving a little slower now that fuel prices are so high. By experimenting a little, you may be able to determine the speed at which your RV gets the best fuel economy. Most of the time, that speed will be at or below the posted highway limit.

The law

“Why are we even discussing this?” an old-timer wondered out loud. “It’s the law. The speed limit is there to keep every one of us safe on the road. We need to obey the law.” He’s right.

What did the majority of folks conclude? Drive at a rate that allows you to have the greatest control of your rig, within the limits of the law.

How fast do you usually drive when towing your RV? Let us know in the comments below. And give us a reason for your speed decision, too, if you don’t mind.

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Bob Hulett
7 days ago

Ford restricts the speed that I can pull my Focus to 69.7 mph. I will set my cruise control to 65 mph and stay in the right lane. We enjoy life in the slow lane.

Lorelei
1 month ago

It depends on where and when. My trailer is very small, so I can go fast enough, but prefer back roads and slower speeds to see the countryside. If I go to California which is a rarity, you are supposed to go 55 with any trailer– I think. On a highway elsewhere where the posted speed is 65, people are going 75, but I prefer 65 with the trailer. We have the “Basic Rule” which means you are also to drive safely for the conditions at the time. If people are driving on my bumper, I slow down and hope they will pass or when possible, I pull over to get them off me. I’m nearly always over the speed limit, but it’s never fast enough for most; and if there is a trailer ahead of them, they HAVE to get by, no matter how fast.

Bob K
1 month ago

Our rig is a Lance 2285 (7,000 pounds GVW) we pull with a Ford F150 3.5 ecoboost (9,000+ tow capacity). We can go as fast as we want but for the wind, curves, rain, snow, poor road surfaces and the fact that we live primarily on social security. I drive at what seems to be a reasonable speed for the conditions. I may exceed the limit a little going down a hill to have momentum going up the next, but always in the back of my mind is fuel economy. In 40,000 + miles with this truck/trailer combination it seems that 60 to 65 MPH is the optimum for getting where we are going (200 to 300 miles a day) with relatively reasonable fuel economy. And, if I stay out of the turbo I’m relatively sure we can save 1 to 2 miles per gallon. Keeping the RPMs between 2,000 and 3,000 trumps maintaining the speed limit when the importance of fuel economy outweighs getting there fast. Enjoy the journey.

John Gray
1 month ago

We have a 2020 35′ travel trailer and a 2018 F-150. I tried doing 65 and 70, but found that the control of both vehicles to be less. You have 18 wheelers passing you pushing you and the trailer around a bit. So, when we hit the road, I’ll do 55 with more control and we decided to only go 250 to 300 in a day max. Personally, I don’t care what the other drivers think about me going that speed when it’s 70mph on that road. It’s our home and I’m not going to destroy it to drive wreck less. I stay above the minimum speed.

Jeff
1 month ago

I see no one even took into consideration the speed rating of there rv tires. A lot of them are rated at 65 mph.

Bob
1 month ago

Sandy was not exaggerating when stated that California’s drivers will push you out of the way! They will also salute you!

Dick
1 month ago

Depends on where I’m at, curvy roads I drive slower, but being in northern Michigan, 80-85 on the freeway depending on traffic. Having said that, with out trailer brakes my truck will stop itself, a trailer, and my dozer, in less distance than my wife’s Malibu will stop empty.

Mimi Johnson
1 month ago

We drive the speed limit or under depending on what the speed limit is on that highway. Usually we try to drive about 60 but if the weather is great, the highway is in great condition, and the limit is above 60
we might drive 65 but that’s rare. We’re both professional commercial drivers and have seen and experienced how easily one can lose control of a towed vehicle so even though we love making good time we’d prefer it be a safe time. Here’s a fact most folks don’t know. It takes 4 seconds for a 40’ bus to stop and/or avoid colliding with a vehicle in front of it coming to a sudden stop, by going onto a shoulder, etc. So imagine trying NOT to jackknife an rv, I’d say it would take 6 seconds or more and that would only be if the driver had their full attention on the situation to react immediately leaving 6 seconds or more distance between themselves and the vehicle they’re behind. (Think counting 6 Mississippi’s, that’s the distance required)

David Childs
1 month ago

Lately we drive a 40 ft diesel pusher and find that if we go 2-3 mph below the listed speed limit on 4 lane highways other vehicles go around us and keep pulling further away. This gives us room ahead so that we don’t have to keep applying our brakes because we’re too close. Saves on brakes and gives better fuel mileage, which these days is even more important than getting there 5-10 minutes later than the rest of traffic.
Friends who are towing trailers or fifth wheels are finding this works for them too.
On two lane roads maintain the speed limit.

Brad
1 month ago

Tires are rated at 60 mph, I maintain my speed between 60 and 65.

Gerald
1 month ago

We go at 65. I feel that is a good speed for me. We have a 95 dodge 2500 with 5.9 with a 29 ft 5th wheel

Marc Stauffer
1 month ago

Part of the RV experience for me is getting to where you want to camp. I don’t do the interstate unless there is no other choice. Looking at scenery, stopping to experience local cultures and sights is part of the get away. 55 is my max speed and if I need to pull over to let folks by, it must be time for another cup of coffee.

DENNIS J CHARPENTIER
1 month ago

RV driving speed is a function of conditions, speed limit, safety, and comfort. Adverse conditions always call for reduced speed or curtailing of driving for the day altogether if it gets really bad. The speed limit is just that but I do admit to creeping over a bit if I’m on the downhill and I see an uphill grade approaching. Safety is always number one. Posted speed is the ideal, but I’ll decide what is safe and prudent for my vehicle; it’s usually less. Comfort on the road adds to the enjoyment of the trip. The final destination is wonderful but getting there is half the fun. Enjoy your time on the road. If you’re feeling comfortable behind the wheel, your vehicle is also operating in its comfort zone as well. Be safe out there and be an example for what is the right thing to do on our highways.

Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
1 month ago

Good advice, Dennis. Thanks! Here’s an interesting coincidence. You didn’t mention a specific speed limit, but lots of other commenters did. One number that was mentioned frequently is “55.” The coincidence is that this is your 55th comment on RVtravel.com! So I guess you’re right at the speed limit. 😆 Have a great day! 😀 –Diane

Sweden'Texas
1 month ago

HOT weather requires you to slow down, I blew a tire at 60mph when temp was 106!
Liked; “Comfort on the road adds to the enjoyment of the trip.” comment!

Boone
1 month ago

5 over which is 80 here. F250 with a 40 ft triple axle

Jewel
1 month ago
Reply to  Boone

You might need to look closely at rv crashes. Just becatse you can travel that fast does not mean you can stop.
We live in Texas where it’s 80mph on the interstate out west. But even though our truck and trailer and the tires on them are capable of traveling at higher speeds, it is impossible to have control when sudden stops are necessary. For example, if you are in a car traveling at 30mph and have to stop suddenly, it will take about 75 feet to stop, including reaction time. At 60mph, it quadruples to about 240 feet. This doesn’t even take into consideration the extra weight and length to stop a truck towing a large RV.

I am retired law enforcement and traffic investigator, so I do have some knowledge in this area.

I have seen plenty of crashes that could have been prevented with slower speeds and more space for reaction time.

75+ mph is no speed for any RV. Ever.

Duane R
1 month ago
Reply to  Boone

I don’t know where your “here” is, but if you did that on I-70 in Colorado, you would tear your trailer apart.

I also agree with Jewel, that it is too fast, anywhere. A triple-axle is a heavy trailer. An F250 is not a heavy truck, compared to that trailer. Just does not seem safe, to me. I have been towing for decades. You don’t have an accident, until you do. Hope any accident you may have is minor, but at 80 mph, I doubt it would be. I assume you have insurance. That means you are betting that you will have an accident. If you were not betting you would have an accident, you wouldn’t buy insurance. Do you follow that logic?

Neal Davis
1 month ago

I typically drive our 38,000 pound 43′ DP towing our Jeep Grand Cherokee at or below the speed limit, rarely exceeding 65 mph. I have gone up to 75 mph passing something (usually a tractor-trailer rig) with a solid line of traffic behind me. We soon will trade our 43′ DP for a 36′ DP. I’ll use that transition to see how much fuel we can save with a typical travel speed of 55 mph. There still will be times (e.g., highway splitting and the left lane goes the direction I want) that I’ll go faster, but a recent article in RV Travel gave me strong incentive to try to drive slower. We’ll see.

Sheila Papalcure
1 month ago

I drive my 28′ class C without towing anything 55 mph. I am 70 with Shih Tzus and enjoying the journey with better safety and mpg.

JAMES Linde
1 month ago

Does anyone read the information on their tires . Most trailer tires are rated at 65 miles per hour maximum.

Ronald Mitchell
1 month ago
Reply to  JAMES Linde

Goodyear Endurance made in America rated at 85 mph.

Michael Schrader
1 month ago

It’s all about the conditions… Of your Rig, traffic and how comfortable you are in your ability to OR not-to Tow. Plain and simple. GOOD LUCK Y’ALL. Be safe!!

Ken
1 month ago

The only thing I have hauled is my boat trailer. It is in no way as heavy as an RV. On the trailer itself, it is clearly marked to not exceed 45mph. The tires are also marked with a max speed of 65mph. I would find it hard to try to follow the trailer max speed. Most of the time near me, the speed limit for the road is 55. When I tow the boat I tend to keep it just below 55mph as it is a happy medium. When it comes to my boat, it is better to go a little slower. I think I would die if I killed it and it was because I couldn’t keep my speed under control. I am sure you all feel the same about your RV’s.

Jeremy
1 month ago

I drive at 60 everywhere when towing, it is safer for me and my family, I can’t risk destroying our home just to make it somewhere 30 min quicker.

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