You Can Avoid an RV Disaster

Despite high fuel prices, more Americans are hitting the roads this Memorial Day Weekend.

A recreational vehicle sits crashed into a garage in Gaston, North Carolina. Firefighters were dispatched to the incident that sent one man to Gaston Memorial Hospital with non life threatening injuries. (Credit: Gaston Gazette)

AAA estimates 34.9 million people will travel at least 50 miles this weekend. That is about 100,000 more than last year, even though gas costs more.

Whether you are a rookie or a veteran when it comes to the pleasures of traveling in a recreational vehicle, a review of the basics can help to keep you on the road to safety.

Realize your size. Many road mishaps occur because of an RV’s additional size and weight. For instance, operators accidentally drive under an overpass without enough clearance because they forget about the additional height. Know your RV’s height (remember to include the AC unit), width, and length and have them posted in the cockpit clearly visible to the driver.

Also know the clearances of the bridges, underpasses, and tunnels along your route, especially on back roads. A road atlas specifically for RVers or semi drivers can help.

Having your recreational vehicle road-ready and smart planning often helps the RVer to avoid a disaster as the following four incidents illustrate.

RV trapped in mall parking lot

Santa Maria, California: On May 7 (2011), a driver found out the hard way that it’s important to know the height of your recreational vehicle and pay attention to the clearance signs in parking lots. A mini Toyota camper truck wedged itself in the south parking structure of the Santa Maria Mall on the 400 block of Town Center East.
Officers and firefighters had to flatten the tires of the camper to get it out. A nearby repair shop then had to put new tires on the RV.

There is a sign that states how much clearance the structure has, but the camper was too big. No damage was done to the parking structure.

Man hospitalized after driving RV into garage

(Credit: Gaston Gazette)

Gaston, North Carolina: A Gastonia man was hospitalized after apparently driving an RV through the garage of his home on Friday night (May 6).

A firefighter at Gastonia Fire Department station four on Armstrong Park Road said they were dispatched around 8:15 p.m. to 615 Rosemary, the home of Russell Miller.

A nursing supervisor at Gaston Memorial Hospital said at 5 p.m. Saturday that Miller was in very stable condition.

The tan-colored Allegro RV remained half in and half out the carport area of the single-story brick home on Saturday evening. The roof of the RV appeared gutted as it apparently crashed into the roof of the home. The RV roof appeared to be intact but the interior of the driver’s side of the vehicle was totally encompassed by wood, glass, and debris.

On February 17, a similar situation occurred just down the block from Miller’s home. An 87-year-old man and his wife were pulling into their carport at 330 Rosemary Lane when the driver hit the gas instead of the brake in his Toyota Avalon.

It is unclear if Miller hit the gas instead of the brake in the RV.

Exhaust ignites wood on RV’s tow rack

As you drive the highways and byways this summer, remember to drive safely--the life you save may be your own. Pictured above driving in the fog in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.© Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sun City, Arizona: A family renting a motorhome escaped disaster after exhaust from the motorhome ignited wood the family had secured to a tow rack behind the unit. The renters had inserted a carrying rack into the hitch receiver in back of the rental unit and secured a supply of firewood to be used later. The vehicle’s exhaust came out the back of the unit directly beneath the wood. The wood caught fire.

Not being able to see the fire, they drove for at least 35 miles with a fire spewing hot ash behind them. They eventually stopped and quickly put out the fire with no damage to the unit. But, they did manage to start three brush fires which had to be put out by the local fire departments.

That’s one of the reasons why manufacturers discourage use of hitch racks. If anything with gasoline, like a generator, would have been stored there, it could have been a disaster.

The dealer noted that a quick fix to prevent problems like this from happening would involve installing an extension device on the exhaust pipe with a turn down that would direct the hot air toward the ground, rather than straight out onto anything being towed close to the vehicle.

Woman falls from moving RV

Indio, California: A woman landed on her head when she fell out of a moving motorhome in Indio. The woman fell around 10:45 a.m. as her husband was making a left turn from Jefferson Street to Highway 111, said Ben Guitron of the Indio Police Department. The woman was trying to secure the door of the RV so her dog would not fall out, but lost her balance during the turn and fell.

The woman was taken to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs for treatment. Officers initially had a hard time understanding the woman because she had reverted to speaking German, which was her first language, instead of English, according to Guitron.

Shouldn’t the door have been secured BEFORE takeoff?

Remember, Safety First, and Happy RVing!

Worth Pondering…
One needs only two tools in life: WD40 to make things go, and duct tape to make them stop.

—G. Weilacher

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