RV travel can either be carefree living or a total disaster. Without paying attention to road and weather conditions, your next move could end in tragedy.
Driving on a Narrow Road with No Turnaround
One of the scariest places for an RV to is at the end of a long, narrow road with no place to turn around. An RV GPS may help you to avoid most of these dead ends, they’re not 100% foolproof. If you find yourself stuck at the end of a road with no turnaround, you will need to do one of two things:
- If you are towing a car, unhitch it, then back your RV up the entire road, until you can safely turn around, then walk back for the car.
- Unhitch the car if you are towing, then inch your RV back and forth, back and forth, until you can turn around.
It is essential to stay calm, and if you have a partner, have them outside guiding you to ensure your rig gets out without a scratch. If you are in a new area, and your desire is to go off-grid boondocking, it might be wise to check into a nearby RV park for a few days, then use your tow car or truck to scout out boondocking locations with appropriate roads and cell service for emergencies.
Driving in Big City Rush Hour Traffic
Driving a large RV through big city rush hour traffic is a white knuckle ride. Relax, take a deep breath, and remember these simple rules:
- Keeping your speed to 65 mph or lower will give you more time to react to changing traffic conditions.
- Take tips from professional truck drivers; know the best lanes to be in during traffic (usually the far right lane) make careful maneuvers, and don’t tailgate.
- Your heavy RV requires much more stopping distance than a passenger car. Don’t tailgate, and keep an eye out for brake lights on the horizon, and watch for congested traffic up ahead.
- Before you ever hit the highway and big city traffic, memorize your route, memorize your exits, and listen attentively to your GPS unit, to avoid making any unexpected and sudden maneuvers.
- Stay in the right lane as much as possible, and let everyone who is in a hurry pass you on the left. Staying right also enables you to quickly pull over if you need the emergency lane.
Camping During a Hurricane or Tornado
When deadly weather strikes, there’s a reason why destroyed RV parks are prominent images on the news; a tornado or hurricane can destroy your rig in seconds, throwing it into the air like a missile.
Don’t try to ride out a hurricane or a tornado in your RV. Pay attention to your regional weather alerts. Watch the sky, and keep an eye on the weather; a greenish overcast, turbulent clouds, and hail are indicators that a tornado is forming. If you are in hurricane or tornado territory, know where the nearest storm cellar or solid structure is, leave the RV and get to it fast.
Before you go to a new area, it may be wise to check for when a tornado and hurricane seasons are, and don’t go during those times.
Driving Under a Low Bridge
This is especially problematic if your RV is a large 5th Wheel. Many of the newer, and RV specific GPS units will alert you to low bridges on your route, but don’t rely on technology to keep you safe. Watch the road signs, and follow any marked truck routes. Besides an RV GPS unit, The Mountain Directory lists steep grades, switchback roads, and low clearances.
Know your RV’s height from the highest point on the roof (usually on top of the air conditioner). Memorize that number, or write it on a post-it note on your dashboard. Add a few inches just in case a posted low bridge clearance sign is not accurate; if a road has been repaved several times, the asphalt may be as much as two inches higher.
Parking on Soft Ground
Stepping out onto a beautiful sandy beach at sunrise sounds like a beautiful dream come true, but it’s really a nightmare scenario in an RV. You will get stuck, and it won’t be easy to get out of it. Don’t park on the beach. Just don’t do it.
Same goes for a beautiful, grassy field; how do you know what’s under the grass? And be cautious about parking on soil that looks porous or soft; if the area gets hit by rainstorms, you could get stuck in the mud. Either move the rig before it starts raining or if it’s too late, you may have to wait until the ground dries and hardens before it’s safe to drive out.
Camping in a Flash Flood Zone
Camping alongside a scenic river is a selling point for many campgrounds; before you book your reservation, or drive into boondock on public lands, research whether the area is a flood-prone. Camping areas downstream from reservoirs, or the mountains, could be risky in the rainy season. Also, be cautious in dry desert areas. Stay well up on the higher ground when near any dry washes or river beds. Rain many miles away can come crashing down those dry washes and river beds very unexpectedly.