Wednesday, November 29, 2023


10 helpful tips for driving an RV at night

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?



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Dennis G. (@guest_256958)
1 month ago

Had a family emergency ourselves 6 months ago requiring a mid-night arrival on our mom’s home in the mountains. Dimming our LED dash lights was mandatory, and a spotter while backing up to our mother’s house was required. Unfortunately, I did not have my spotter and bumped her garage. Luckily all damages were repairable.

Neal Davis (@guest_256922)
1 month ago

Thank you, Gail! I am not keen to drive at night, but circumstances have caused it to happen a few times. My solution is only a partial one, and is to wear glasses with amber lenses. The yellow lens seem to make things more distinctive and clearer. I wear them in low-light situations in addition to darkness. I find them helpful whether driving our DP or our Jeep.

Chuck (@guest_256589)
1 month ago

Has anyone tried the so-called night vision glasses?

Neal Davis (@guest_256924)
1 month ago
Reply to  Chuck

I wear glasses with amber lens in low-light situations, Chuck. They make things more distinctive and easier to see past the headlights of approaching vehicles. (I have had cataract surgery on both eyes.)

Bill Byerly (@guest_256528)
1 month ago

Great tips and reminders Gail. I hope the family emergency turned out to be okay for you and the family..

Vince S (@guest_256502)
1 month ago

We try to avoid night driving as much as possible in the RV. Road debris is harder to spot, shoulder conditions are tough to judge, black ice and large game is more prevalent, and things seem to break a lot more after sunset.

Setting up in the dark might be a badge of honor to some (tell me again that you meant to set up with one wheel on a termite mound and the other on an ant hill) but not for me. There’s just no pleasure wearing a headlamp while looking for where that dog poop smell is emanating.

If push comes to shove (had a medical emergency), we’ll do it but don’t be standing in the center of the road in the dark. I won’t swerve assuming I could even see ya or stop in time…

Jim Johnson (@guest_256489)
1 month ago

A couple contrarian comments. The first one depends on your road equipment. We tow our camper with a Subaru Ascent. We are typically safer by turning on the adaptive cruise system for more reasons than fit here. Plus the system’s reaction time is much faster than a tired driver.

I like the 4-lane vs 2-lane suggestion, but in rural areas where permissible, drive in the left (inner) lane. It likely won’t help with oncoming traffic glare. But this will increase the distance from the road sides and may give you more time to deal with animal crossings.

Tommy Molnar (@guest_256485)
1 month ago

Yup. Unless there is a family emergency I don’t even open the front door once it gets dark. Years and years of nighttime driving as a truck driver convinced me that once I retired, that was the end of night driving. All of the deer I ran over happened in the middle of the night, on two-lane roads, and in the forest on curvy, hilly roads.

Bert (@guest_256478)
1 month ago

The best thing I’ve found to keep me alert is eating sunflower seeds.

Leonard (@guest_256470)
1 month ago

Tip #11 .
Just figure it out not to drive at night! After three years of owning a 5th wheel, I have never driven or setup at night. 🙂

Tom M (@guest_256484)
1 month ago
Reply to  Leonard

Family emergency’s don’t always happen during the day.

Gigi (@guest_256457)
1 month ago

Remember it is Oct, Nov, and Dec when the deer, elk, and probably moose breeding season. More are chasing each other around and getting hit on the roads than any other time of the year.

Gordon den Otter (@guest_256473)
1 month ago
Reply to  Gigi

Agreed. Twilight (just after sunset and just before dawn) are the worst times, because the wildlife are most active and least visible.

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