The RV salesman boasted, “If you can drive a truck, you can drive an RV.” But, I wondered, can you do it safely? Here’s the truth: RVs require special handling that differs from trucks. In order to stay safe, you need to know and follow these special road rules for RVs.
- Post your rig’s height, weight, length, and width on your dashboard. You may need to access this information as you travel, so it needs to remain in plain sight.
- Plan your route. Check weather forecasts, too. Driving in rain, snow, or gusty winds is no picnic, especially if you’re hauling a big RV behind you. Find out if there are any road closures or detours along your planned route. The Department of Transportation for each state should be able to provide up-to-date information. Or use a travel app (like Google Maps or Roadtrippers) to pinpoint trouble spots, as well as points of interest you may want to stop and see.
- When packing your rig, stay well within the weight limits recommended by your RV’s manufacturer. Also, balance the cargo to evenly distribute the weight inside your rig. Securely fasten down all loose items to prevent them from sliding or falling over.
- Before each trip with your RV, you should check the tire pressure in all tires. Having a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is also highly recommended. A loaded RV puts a great amount of pressure on those tires and a blowout is no fun! Remember that changing seasonal temperatures as well as increasing/decreasing elevations can cause your tires’ pressure to fluctuate. While checking for tire pressure, also visually examine each tire for tread wear, cracking or deterioration. Replace as needed.
- Perform a “walkaround.” Just like it sounds, a walkaround means you actually walk all around your rig. Check to see that all storage hatches, windows and door(s) are securely latched. Also carefully look at the slides, jacks, and hose/electrical connection points. Be sure everything is completely retracted, unplugged, and ready for travel.
- Check your lights. Here’s how Hubby and I do this: I stand at the back of our fifth-wheel RV. Hubby sits inside the truck and turns on the RV exterior lights, works the turn signals, applies the brakes, and flips on the emergency flashers, each in turn. I give a thumbs up for each working light. While I’m behind the rig, Hubby adjusts the rearview mirrors as well as the camera that is mounted to the back of the RV. When he’s got everything adjusted properly, he beeps twice. That’s my cue to know that it’s “all systems go!”
On the road
- Use your seatbelts. If you are travelling with pets, they need to be secured as well. Think: car harness for the dog, cat carrier, etc.
- Obey the speed limit along with all other highway rules. Adjust your driving according to the road conditions.
- Allow extra space between you and the vehicles ahead of you.
- If you begin to feel tired, take a break.
- Remember that stopping your rig will take longer than if you were driving your car or truck. Slow down well in advance of stop signals and use extreme caution when turning or passing. Always use your turn signals! Always!
Follow these special rules of the road to stay safe, and you’ll enjoy RVing for many, many years to come!