Dear RV Shrink:
We just bought a new Montana 5th wheel last month. We are in a great park in Bradenton Beach, Florida, and feel we made the right decision. Having a new rig is exciting but I think my husband worries about it too much. We are well insured but have seen two hit-and-runs already this month. They are not malicious attacks. These people probably don’t even know they had hit something until they discovered a dent in their rigs. Our neighbor with a 40-foot motorhome, pulling a small pickup truck, pulled out while we were eating breakfast one morning. He took out a small palm tree on our site and just missed our truck. Before he exited the park he went over the curb and scraped a fire hydrant. He never even realized he hit anything.
Two days later the couple across the street with a three-axle Airstream wiped out the whole side of their trailer, wrapping it around a telephone pole while turning out of their site too sharply. This morning while out walking we saw another motorhome back into a car while leaving the park. Is this a common occurrence for RVers? I hate to have my husband dwell on this issue all the time. I keep telling him it is just chance that we have witnessed so many collisions in the short time we have been traveling. He is already designing a portable post system to border our campsites as a “first line of defense,” as he calls it. Please tell me this is not necessary. I feel like we are spending too much time worrying about this issue instead of enjoying our surroundings. I feel like my husband is getting to the point where he is not comfortable leaving our rig unattended. —Bump and Grind in Bradenton
Don’t worry. Be happy. When you look around the campground at some of the large rigs that now ply the road, you would think this could be a huge problem. If you go on the internet and look for RV accident statistics you will find very little information. [Editor: Here’s an article we ran recently in the RV Travel Newsletter on the top five insurance claims.] The fact is, RVers don’t hurt enough people to warrant their own statistic. I think your above-average accident witnessing will decrease as you continue to travel.
Look optimistically at your experience so far. It has heightened your personal awareness and will make you more careful in your own towing practice. When someone has a good percentage of their net worth in a new, comfortable home on wheels, it makes them ever conscious of their surroundings and driving habits.
Many dealers take new customers through a driving course to demonstrate turning radius, swing ratio and tips on using mirrors effectively. Each driver is unique. This is no different from learning to drive a light truck or van. Each type of RV has a different reaction while maneuvering around tight campgrounds. I have known tour bus drivers who would take a 40-foot tour bus into New York City, but could not get used to parking a 5th wheel.
Your husband should hold off on his “Perimeter Pole” design until you have had more time to experience just how safe it is to be surrounded by a whole herd of various-sized RVs. I think you will discover the wonderful world of RV travel is almost utopia-like in the safety department. You should encourage your husband to leave your rig unattended for extended lengths of time until his paranoia has sufficiently eased. Enjoy all of your neighbors and never, I mean never, let them see you sweat!
—Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink
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