By Gail Marsh
A family emergency recently prompted us to drive our RV at night. We prefer to travel during daylight hours, but this time it just wasn’t possible. Here are some tips that may come in handy should you need to travel in the dark sometime, too.
Tips for driving an RV at night
- Slow down. Nighttime travel is more dangerous than traveling in the daylight simply because your view of the roadway is limited. You can only see ahead as far as your headlights illuminate. By traveling at a slower rate of speed you’ll be better able to control your vehicle, especially in the case of emergencies. (Think: deer or obstruction in the road.)
- Stay alert. Sure, there may be less traffic on the road at night, but this can also be a negative. You won’t have cars ahead of you to forewarn you of upcoming situations. Eliminate distractions so that you can fully concentrate on driving. (Think: Safely secure children and pets.)
- Avoid two-lane highways. If possible, travel via four-lane or divided highways if you must drive at night. This will reduce the glare from oncoming cars and should avoid sharp curves and steep hills, as well.
- Settings. Adjust your driver seat so that you are sitting in a more upright position. This will keep your knees bent and therefore less relaxed. Also, resist using the cruise control. Remember that you cannot see as far down the road as in the daytime. You need to remain alert.
- Interior vehicle temperature. It may be easier for you to drive at night if you keep the temperature inside your vehicle cooler than normal. Travel buddies can cover up with a blanket, if necessary. Avoid using car seat heaters if you have them. Occasionally rolling down the windows to bring outside air into your vehicle may also refresh you.
- Interior lighting. Bright lights can tire your eyes more quickly, so adjust your dash control lights to a dimmer, yet still visible, setting. If other interior lights bother you, ask travel buddies to turn them off. (Think: cell phones, iPad, etc.)
- Exterior lights. Check to make sure all exterior lights are working before you get on the road. This includes your trailer or fifth-wheel’s lights. Use your high beams properly. Dim your lights for oncoming vehicles and when following a vehicle so that your lights won’t hamper their vision. When facing an oncoming vehicle with bright lights, direct your eyes downward, to the right edge of the road until the vehicle has passed by. Use your visor as a shield against streetlights and glare. Note: Keep your headlights clean for optimal visibility (you can even use toothpaste) and clean your windshield frequently to lessen the glare from oncoming vehicles.
- Eye movement. Most experts recommend that drivers keep their eyes moving. Check rearview mirrors frequently. Look into the distance ahead and scan peripheral areas of vision, too. Frequent eye movements will stimulate your brain and help fight against fatigue.
- Stop often. Frequent stops will help fight against drowsiness. Get out of your truck or motorhome and walk around. Perform jumping jacks or squats to get your blood flowing and feel more energized. Grab a cup of coffee or drink water. Enjoy a healthy snack like a cheese stick, apple, granola, or protein bar.
- Travel buddy. Conversation with a travel buddy can help keep you alert. Your travel buddy can also help with navigation, adjusting comfort controls, and (most importantly) driving. When traveling at night, we frequently change responsibilities. This allows one of us to catch a quick nap while the other keeps us moving on down the road. Note: If both of us are too tired to drive, we stop. A 20-minute power nap reenergizes us and makes it much safer to continue our travels.
Do you travel in your RV at night? What helps you stay safe?