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10 helpful tips for driving an RV at night

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 some time, 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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Larry Lee
3 months ago

Every time we have driven our MH after dark we say, “Never again!, and this time we mean it!” If nothing else the interior reflections on the glass is disorienting. Automobiles are designed to avoid this problem but not motorhomes.
And about all those tricks to try to stay alert? Forget it! If I need tricks I am getting off the road and spending the night somewhere safer than driving 60mph on a highway while using “tricks”!
We plan our driving to eliminate being tired.
Driving at night is out because you can’t see the countryside in the dark and that would waste all the money I spent on this big beautiful picture window windshield.

Sheri Ken
3 months ago

We RARELY travel in darkness. Unfortunately, we’ve drove in the darkness on two separate occasions for Family Emergencies. Cross Country, Arizona to Florida. Utah to Florida.
One might not realize, but in our experiences, we followed truckers during our roadtrips with our route. It was a steady safe speed. Truckers were polite and extremely careful. There were several “DETOURS” for road work closures in the darkness. The truckers knew where and which way without a hitch of trouble. We stopped at truck stops, ate, etc. took short naps to revitalize. It was less traffic and very few speedsters. Thank goodness ZERO ACCIDENTS.

Leonard Rempel
3 months ago

Just don’t drive at night, ever.
That’s how we roll and it works just fine.

Chuck
3 months ago

Have you considered turning on the radio to a louder than usual sound and even go to an oldie station and sing along loudly and perhaps badly. If that doesn’t keep you awake at least it will keep your partner awake.

Tom
3 months ago

Drive in the right hand lane as much as possible. If a wrong way driver ( drunk driver) is coming at you they may be in the left hand lane, thinking they are in the right hand lane.

Roger V
3 months ago

Great advice. In my youth, we used to travel overnight. I remember a 14 hour jaunt to Disney World one time! It was torture, but thank God we got there safely. No more. In our 60’s now and we avoid night driving like the plague. We did leave a store parking lot one night at 2am recently (thanks to some unsavory characters). Drove 50 miles down the road to the Cracker Barrel. It was definitely weird to be on a major interstate and see it nearly deserted.

Neal Davis
3 months ago

I have traveled at night on three or four occasions, but only because I had no choice. I find the headlights on class A diesels woefully inadequate, given the required stopping distance. Fortunately, I have lacked occasion to confirm that our newly purchased Newmar has similarly inadequate headlights as our American Coach. I hope that situation persists. More to your point, I have had no trouble with drowsiness when driving our class A at night because of the anxiety arising from trying to make out the roadway with headlights providing little illumination.

Beth
3 months ago

Cleaning the INSIDE of your windshield reduces glare at night from oncoming traffic. Thanks for your tips. We also avoid driving the RV at night.

Marv
3 months ago

Perform jumping jacks or leg squats? Have you ever seen me trying to just get out of bed? That tip may have to be amended somewhat. LOL.

Tom
3 months ago

Comment on checking exterior lights
Always do a pre-trip walk around your RV
Safety first.

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