2020 has been a tough year for travel. With many Americans staying home, the Automobile Association of America (AAA) predicts that we will take 120 million fewer trips this summer than we did in 2019.
However, another equally dramatic trend has emerged – Recreational Vehicle (RV) sales have jumped 170 percent from last year. While Americans may be wary of flying across the country, they still want a change of scenery.
Many families have shifted their vacation plans to include RV road trips. While a cross-country trip can be a memorable vacation, it can also endanger others if the RV driver is inexperienced. RV drivers are not required to get special licenses or undergo training, so new drivers are learning how to maneuver their vehicles on the open road.
RV drivers must re-learn the basics
Driving an RV is not the same experience as driving the family car. There are significant differences between the two types of vehicles, and it takes time for new RV drivers to be able to safely and confidently navigate the roads. A few key differences include:
- Visibility – RVs have larger blind spots than typical passenger cars. If RV drivers are not careful, they could hit other vehicles when switching lanes.
- Braking – Due to their larger size and greater weight, it takes RVs much longer than smaller vehicles to slow down. This is especially dangerous in inclement weather or if a driver needs to quickly react to a road hazard. A new driver may be unaware of the greater distance necessary to slow down and misjudge when they should apply the brakes.
- Size – New RV drivers should familiarize themselves with their vehicle’s dimensions before they hit the road. Drivers also be aware of their width, ensuring that they do not drift into adjacent lanes.
- Tail swing – If an RV is broken up into two separate pieces, the coach will pivot at a different point than the front of the RV. Drivers must be familiar with the difference in how the front and back of the vehicle move when they turn.
Extended hours behind the wheel can lead to drowsy driving
On top of the increased risks associated with limited visibility and decreased responsiveness, road-trippers typically spend many hours driving each day. Extended periods behind the wheel can lead to drowsy driving and decreased attention. Both factors increase the chances of a serious mistake and crash.
How can other drivers safely share the road this summer?
Drivers risk a crash anytime they get behind the wheel. However, taking simple safety precautions can help reduce your chances of getting into a crash with an RV this summer, such as:
- Staying out of an RV’s blind spots
- Giving RVs more space on the road than you would a smaller vehicle
- Driving defensively, and being willing to give up the right of way if necessary
- Allowing RVs more time and room to turn
- Prioritizing safety over speed
At the end of the day, everyone wants to get to their destination safely. Be cautious around RVs and realize that their drivers may still be figuring out how to control their larger vehicles.
Unfortunately, taking proper safety precautions is not always enough to prevent a crash. If you are hit by a RV, you may suffer significant injuries and property damage. Make sure to always seek medical and legal assistance in the event of a crash.