Are RVs Safe in a Crash?

Last Updated on October 31, 2023 by Jess

Every RV owner’s worst nightmare is having an accident with their vehicle. It doesn’t matter if you are in a towable or drivable vehicle; it can be a horrible experience.

Dealers and manufacturers talk a lot about RV features and capabilities. However, they rarely talk about safety. So are you safe if your motorhome is involved in an accident?

Today we deal with a subject that few owners want to think about. But pretending it’s impossible won’t help you.

Fasten your seat belt and get going!

Are motorhomes safe in the event of an accident?

Your safety in an RV accident depends greatly on the size, type and age of your RV. As you might guess, newer, larger vehicles are better equipped and offer more protection. Some newer drivable models have airbags, anti-lock brakes and stability control.

On the other hand, towable RVs like travel trailers and fifth wheels generally don’t offer many safety features. They generally rely on the capabilities and safety features of the tow vehicle. This is one of the many reasons why we recommend you stick to your vehicle’s towing capacity.

Overall, RVs are not the safety vehicle you want to be in if you are in an accident. Since many of them are made of lightweight, cheap wood, even a minor accident can cause significant damage. For most of these vehicles, even a severe impact is enough to cause a total loss.

What type of motorhome is the safest?

If safety is your biggest concern, a Class A motorhome is the safest option. These massive bus-like vehicles can absorb impacts and bumps from just about anything.

Because they weigh more than 30,000 to 40,000 pounds, they also offer tremendous stability. Many of these models also have safety features like airbags and advanced stability control to keep you safe.

However, just because you’re in a beefy vehicle doesn’t mean you can throw all caution to the wind. Navigating these behemoths can be a challenge, especially in tight or crowded campgrounds. Regardless of what type of RV you drive, make safety a priority.

Do RVs undergo crash testing?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) oversees safety standards for motor vehicles, including RVs. These typically include seat belts, child restraints, lighting, and other important features. RVs are required to meet these safety standards, but few crash tests are conducted.

Some manufacturers conduct crash tests on parts of the vehicle. These are usually Class B and C motorhomes, since they are built on a passenger car chassis. Crash tests with a motor home are almost unknown in the industry.

How to avoid a motorhome accident

One of the biggest concerns many drivers have is avoiding an accident with their RV. To keep you safe, we’ve put together some tips on how to avoid an accident with your RV. Let’s take a look.

Watch your speed

One of the most important things you can do as a driver to avoid an accident with your RV is to watch your speed. The faster you drive, the longer it will take for you to stop. If you want to avoid a dangerous situation, every extra inch can make all the difference.

Regardless of the speed limit, you should not drive your RV faster than 65 miles per hour. This will ensure that you stay in control and can stop in time if a dangerous situation arises. If you have a heavy foot, this adjustment can be very difficult.

Know the dimensions of your motorhome

Regardless of the size or type of your RV, it’s important to know its dimensions. The last thing you want to do is exceed a low clearance or weight limit. You could be putting yourself in a dangerous situation or severely damaging your current RV.

When measuring your towable RV, you need to measure it at the highest point when it is connected to the tow vehicle. This will give you the most accurate measurement.

Once you have determined the length, height and weight, write them down on a piece of paper and hang them in your vehicle. This can help ease your worries when you see a warning sign.

Plan your route

We use RV Life’s RV Trip Wizard to plan our route. After you enter your dimensions into the software, it will make sure that the suggested routes are safe for you and your vehicle. However, the technology is not perfect and you should always remain vigilant and use your common sense.

When planning your route, it’s also important to consider traffic. If you’ve ever driven through cities like Atlanta, Georgia, you know that the time you drive through can make a difference.

Driving through during morning or evening rush hour can be a stressful experience. It’s a good idea to plan your trips through big cities to avoid the busiest times.

Remember: Recently, a dump truck and a mobile home collided in Quechee, Vermont. See what happened!

Perform regular maintenance

You should also perform regular maintenance to protect yourself and your RV from accidents.

If you’re not sure what to do, check your owner’s manual or the paperwork you received when you purchased your RV. Manufacturers often provide a detailed schedule for performing certain maintenance tasks.

When it comes to maintenance, be aware of which tasks you can do yourself and which you need to hire a professional for. Doing a maintenance job incorrectly is just as dangerous as not doing it at all. You don’t want to overextend yourself and put yourself in danger.

Stay alert

Driving an RV can be exhausting because it requires so much focus and attention. Take frequent breaks to stay alert behind the wheel. Some drivers limit their daily mileage to a few hundred miles to avoid exhaustion and the risk of an RV accident.

Unfortunately, driving limits vary from person to person. If you’re not feeling frisky, find a safe place to spend the night. As we often say, better safe than sorry.

Adapt to the weather conditions

Mother Nature can be very fickle when it comes to the weather. You need to adapt your driving to the weather conditions, especially snow, ice and rain. Continuing to drive as if everything is normal is incredibly dangerous.

Roads are usually slickest during the first 10 to 15 minutes of rain. The fluids bring oils and other contaminants to the surface on the road. This can drastically increase your braking distance and reduce stability.

In addition, you should also consider wind speeds. Strong gusts of wind can push you back and forth on the road. Find a safe place to park and wait out extreme conditions. It is better to be late than to put yourself in danger.

Remember: If you are driving on a foggy day, you should always do so!

A truck towing a motor home on a foggy day.

Avoid distracted driving

Although there are laws against distracted driving in almost every state, it’s shocking how many drivers ignore them. When you’re behind the wheel, no text message, email or Facebook message is so important that you need to read it. If you do, you put your life, your passengers, and other road users at risk.

Even adjusting the radio or air conditioning can be dangerous. Have other passengers perform these tasks. All it takes is one second of distraction to cause a disaster.

Safe travel for you and your motorhome

Unfortunately, the risks of driving an RV on the open road cannot be eliminated. Even if you follow the rules of the road and do everything you should, an RV accident can still happen.

However, you can do your part to minimize the risks by following the tips we’ve discussed. Be the best driver you can be, and we wish you a safe trip!

Do you have any other tips for safe driving?

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