Driving an RV is like driving a small house around the country—down highways, through back roads, and up and over mountain passes.
And as more people join the RV lifestyle, it becomes increasingly important that RVers have a basic understanding of common RV accidents and how best to avoid them.
Most of the common RV accidents can be avoided by preventative maintenance, proactive attentiveness, and not overlooking the obvious. The basics are essential, yet they are the checkpoints many RVers miss.
Whether you are a newcomer to the world of RVing or someone who has seen it all, there’s a lesson to be learned from the simple stuff.
1. Remember the Basics
RVing is so much more satisfying when you really get to know your rig. When you’re thoroughly familiar with your coach, it’s easier to notice when things aren’t quite right.
Your owner’s manual should be your starting point.
To ensure you’re covering the basics, include the following essential RV checks in your daily travel routine:
2. Know Your Height
Hitting bridges and overhangs or misjudging the amount of clearance beneath an overpass or inside a tunnel can put an immediate stopper on your road trip.
In order to keep your RV in one piece and avoid getting hung up—literally— consider the following guidelines:
- Pay close attention to posted clearance measurements
- Know the height of your RV and place a sticky note on the dashboard with your exact height remembering to include the A/C
“We’ll probably fit” does not cut it—don’t take the risk
3. Conduct a Pre-Drive Safety Check
Many accidents are caused by simple forgetfulness: leaving doors unlatched, awnings up or steps extended. Use a step-by-step checklist and conduct a final walk-around visual inspection before driving away. A pre-departure checklist should include the following:
- Check oil, transmission, and coolant levels
- Check tire inflation pressure and adjust as required
- Power cord, water and sewer hoses disconnected and stowed securely
- Ensure all signal, four-way hazard, brake, running, and fog lights are operational
- TV antenna, satellite dish, roof vents, jacks, steps, and awnings fully retracted
- Turn propane off at the tank
- Tow bar and safety cables in place
- Check under the rig for signs of fluid leaks
- Check your surroundings for hazards before departure, e.g. weather, low branches, and obstacles sticking out of the ground
- Final 360-degree walk-around the RV before getting in the driver’s seat and leaving for your next destination
4. Connecting to City Water Hookups
Be certain to ALWAYS use your water regulator when hooking up to city water. And make darn sure that the water regulator is on the end of the hose that hooks to city water. The regulator should be at the water-spigot end, not the RV end, between the city water faucet and your inlet connection.
Why? Pressure is regulated into your coach through the hose. An incorrect hookup won’t protect you from pressure spikes, especially when campground water pressure exceeds 100 psi. You do not want your water hose to burst.
If you’re staying at an RV park during extended periods of freezing temperatures, remember to wrap your water hose with insulation to protect against the elements.
5. Managing Waste Water Disposal
Black tank management is part of the RV lifestyle. Some RVers think that by leaving the valves open, everything will run out and take care of itself. Not true! Liquid will run out of the black tank when you have the valves open, but solid waste often remains creating a most disagreeable situation. You need fluids to flush out the solids. It is important to keep the black tank valve closed until you are ready to dump. Dump the contents once the black tank is 3/4 full.
Have you put…
—sign at a Dickson, Tennessee campground