By Gail Marsh
There are four key things to remember when you hit rough roads. You know, those bone-jarring, washboard-like highways where you hold your breath, white-knuckle-grip the steering wheel with both hands and pray that your RV does not literally shake apart behind you. At some point, you will hit sections of rough highway. And while cursing the Department of Transportation may release pent-up anger, these four tips are probably a bit more productive. They may save your rig… or even your life!
1. Slow down
As with any other road hazard, speed will exacerbate your problem. Not only does an increase in speed magnify the jarring, but it can also make you lose control of your rig. So, decrease your speed. Pull over to let others pass you, but do not let them intimidate you into increasing your speed. Let other drivers take the chance of putting their alignment or suspension out of whack. You slow down.
2. Drive in the left lane, if possible
We’re talking about four-lane highways here, of course. You may find that the left lane offers a bit smoother ride. You’ll need to keep a keen eye on the traffic behind your rig, though. Give yourself plenty of time to signal and switch lanes (back into the right lane) if a vehicle from behind you approaches. (Note: Many states restrict driving in the left lane to passing or exiting.)
3. Consider an alternate route
Yes, I know it may take additional time to reach your destination but consider the alternative. Find a different route using a map or app on your phone. Consult your travel atlas and state road map. Or ask a “local” about alternate routes you might use. Take the time to locate a safer, smoother route. You just might save your rig – and your nerves, as well!
4. Make sure you have the necessary equipment
Consider upgrading your tires and shocks. This will help a lot on rougher roads and provide greater comfort when on better highways, too. You may not know when road conditions will deteriorate. Be prepared for emergency situations, for both long and short trips. Keep your emergency roadside insurance contact information inside your vehicle. If your RV or tow vehicle becomes disabled, slowly move off the highway (if possible) and onto the shoulder. Carefully drive until your entire RV is well off the road. You’ll need a jack, spare tire, and a lug wrench to fix any flat caused by the rough conditions. You will also want some orange warning cones, triangles, or flares to alert other travelers about your breakdown. In case of injuries caused by a blowout or other road mishap, you’ll want to have a well-stocked emergency medical kit on hand, as well.
No one likes to drive over rutted or pothole-riddled roads. The fact remains, however, that many, many of our highways need serious repair. Unless and until our roads are fixed, RVers must know what to do to protect themselves, their rigs, and others as they travel along these highways.