Driving any vehicle through poor weather conditions can be dangerous, but an RV carries an increased level of risk. The fact that an RV is taller and larger than many other vehicles can put it at more risk of losing control in storms, and many are rear-wheel drive, which handles significantly differently and can be harder to control. Fear of driving through a storm shouldn’t prevent an RVer from enjoying the road, but any motorist should practice safe driving practices when driving through inclement weather. Follow these safe driving practices and be better prepared for when bad weather hits.
Check the Weather Radar
Before hitting the road, check the weather map. Knowing the weather conditions before they hit can prevent the situation from becoming dangerous in the first place. By knowing beforehand, you can better prepare for the weather, or choose to stay put and ride it out. Remember, choosing to not drive through bad conditions is the safest course of action. If you do choose to continue the journey, checking the radar will at least let you plan the best route to avoid the worst of it and the best time to head out.
Turn On Your Lights
Turning on headlights in bad weather–be it rain, snow, or anything in between–should be one of the first things you do. Not only is it required by law in many states for headlights to be turned on during storms, but increasing visibility will help in any situation. Headlights will also allow other motorists to see you more clearly, further preventing any accidents. That being said, high beams should not be used in storms if possible. Turning on headlights may be beneficial, but brights can actually glare off of snow, rain, or fog making it almost impossible to see.
Whether it be snow, rain, fog, high winds, or ice, slowing down can make driving much safer. The faster the RV is going, the more likely it is that the vehicle will hydroplane (lose contact with the road and ride on top of the water), lose traction on ice, or be able to stop at a safe distance. It is important to only drive as fast as you feel safe doing so. By the same token, it is important to increase the distance between yourself and anyone in front of you so there is time to react and brake. However, if you fall too far behind the flow of traffic, it is better to pull off and wait it out. Going too slow can increase the likelihood of getting rear-ended, especially since the other drivers are going through the same inclement weather as you.
Avoid High Winds and Standing Water
High winds can be extremely dangerous for RVs. Because of the size and shape of the typical RV, winds will push it all over the road, and it can be difficult to stay in the right lane. If the winds get too bad, they can even tip the RV over and into the ditch. Because of this, it is often safest to just wait it out. If you absolutely must drive in high winds, be sure to go as slow as is safe and pull off if needed. It is better to be late than stuck in a ditch, and remember, RVs aren’t built to withstand that kind of impact or damage. Going in the ditch in an RV can cause significantly more damage than it may to a car or pickup. It is also important to avoid standing water, not just because going through deep water can cause a loss of control, but because it can flood the engine. This is another case where it is better to be safe than sorry. Waiting for the water to go down may take time, but not nearly as much as waiting for the vehicle to be repaired.
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