How to drive your RV safely
Hi, we’ve been RV owners for 5 years now. We know first hand how fun these things . But it’s up to you to make sure that what starts fun, stays fun. Great RV-ing starts with safety, and safety starts before you even put the key in the ignition. I know the family might be eager to get on the road, but there’s a short checklist of things you should inspect before every trip. You should inspect all belts and hoses for cracking especially radiator hoses. Check all lights including headlights, brake lights, turn signals, and clearance lights.
This same applies to any vehicles you’re towing. Make sure each tire is properly inflated and has adequate tread. Inspect any hitch or towing equipment and ensure that the hitch is properly connected. Check to make sure the fire extinguisher is present and securely in place. Make sure you have a plan if you breakdown. This includes carrying a fully-charged cellphone and leaving an itinerary with a friend or relative. It may not seem like much, but if you take care of these few things before you hit the road, you’re guaranteed to have a much easier, safer trip. And it’s also highly recommended that you keep a good, solid set of tools handy should you encounter any difficulty. In my experience, there are 8 specific things you should always carry with you: a working good quality flashlight, a set of functional jumper cables, flat tire repair spray, road flares, an adjustable wrench, screwdrivers,pliers, and, last but not least, an ample amount of duct tape you can use in the event that you need to repair a malfunction. Now these may seem like obvious things to you,but the little things make a big difference.
Now, let’s talk about safety on the road. Personal safety is crucial, but you also have an obligation to keep the road safe for other drivers too. In order to avoid serious accidents, there are a few things to keep in mind. Always check your propane tanks to make sure there are no leaks. Easily detected, propane tank leaks can prevent serious fire damage.
Make sure that each tire is properly inflated. Tire blowouts, common cause of RV accidents, are incredibly simple to avoid. Though you may not know it, you probably carry the perfect tire gauge wherever you go. A Lincoln penny. The penny trick works because the distance between the penny rim and Lincoln’s head is 1/16th of an inch. That’s the minimum required tread depth. When your tire tread is lower than 1/16th of an inch, your vehicle can develop handling problems. And here’s how you can find out. Hold the penny at the base between the thumb and forefinger, making sure that the top of Lincoln’s head is showing, push the penny head first into one of the tire tread grooves until you’ve reached the lowest point within the tread. If any part of Lincoln’s head is covered by the tread, you have a safe amount of tread. If you can see above Lincoln’s head, get yourself a new tire.
Here’s one crucial step that’s often overlooked. The steps. Double check your RV steps, slide-outs, antennae, and awning to ensure that they are securely retracted before you drive away. Also, it’s important to realize your size. Always be aware of your height and keep a record of it handy. Know the clearance of the bridges and tunnels along your route especially on back roads. A road atlas specifically for RV-ers will help with this.
Make sure you’re not overloaded. Over-loading can cause braking or steering problems or worse, premature tire failure. All of these scenarios can be avoided with a simple pre-drive inspection and paying closer attention while you’re driving. Of course, I realize somethings you can’t help. Not everything is under your control. Before every trip, check the weather. Sometimes you can run into a storm. You can’t control the elements but you can take precautions to ensure you and your family are safe. If a severe storm makes your drive difficult, find a sheltered area away from any power lines or trees that could fall onto your RV. Even parking under a bridge is better than driving in a severe thunderstorm. And though I haven’t mentioned it yet, come rain or shine,the most important thing you can do is wear a safety belt. Like I said before, safety is all part of the game and it’s up to you to be a responsible RV owner.