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Are RVs Safe to Drive?

There’s nothing inherently dangerous about RVs. In most states, you don’t need a special license to operate one, and statistically, they get into fewer accidents than passenger vehicles. However, motorists should still exercise caution when operating these powerful vehicles.

Unlike passenger cars, they come with multiple blind spots and a high center of gravity––both of which contribute to the likelihood of a crash. However, with proper training and vigilance, you can safely drive an RV with no problems.

Some States Require Special Licensure to Operate an RV

To ensure drivers’ safety, some states require that motorists have special licensure to drive RVs. These states require you to have a non-commercial Class B license:

  • Wyoming
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • North Carolina
  • Nevada
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Illinois

If you’re licensed to drive, chances are, it’s a Class E license, meaning you can operate a non-commercial vehicle weighing less than 26,001 pounds. A non-commercial Class B license means you can operate vehicles heavier than 26,001 pounds––including most RVs.

What Goes into Getting a Class B License?

The requirements for getting a Class B license largely depend on where you live. For example, if you live in Florida, you must:

  • Pass a knowledge exam
  • Demonstrate your ability to drive an RV
  • Undergo an “in-cab check”
  • Undergo a pre-trip inspection

Driving an RV Is Different Than Driving a Truck or Car

Even without ever driving an RV, most people understand that it takes a level of skill and precision to operate one. You can reduce your risk of an accident by understanding these things:

RVs Have a High Center of Gravity

A high center of gravity basically means that RVs are prone to roll over if struck. This means that you should avoid:

  • Taking sharp turns
  • Going above the posted speed limit
  • Weaving in and out of lanes
  • Unsafe-looking terrain

You should also avoid driving while it’s raining. If your RV hydroplanes, it’ll land on its side, causing serious damage and injuries.

RVs Require a Wider Turning Radius

Passenger vehicles generally require about three feet of space to turn safely. This is not the case with RVs. You need as much space as possible to execute a turn. Moreover, RVs come with more blind spots, meaning you have to be extremely vigilant for any objects.

You can’t take a turn too quickly, either. Remember what we said earlier about RVs having a high center of gravity? A sharp turn could quickly turn an RV on its side.

RVs Feature a Host of Distractions

Many people consider RVs their home away from home––and to some extent, it’s true. Modern RVs come with Wi-Fi, streaming services, CB radios, cable––you name it. While these are great boredom busters for passengers, they can ultimately end up distracting the driver.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that distracted driving is one of the most dangerous driving practices. The organization notes that, each day, eight people lose their lives in collisions caused by distracted driving.

RVs operators can cut down on distracted driving by:

  • Purchasing RVs with enclosed cabs. This cuts down on the prevalence of interruptions while you’re driving, as it seals the driver’s cab away from the rest of the vehicle. If you have already purchased an RV without this feature, you can use a shower curtain to create your own space. 
  • Setting rules. If you’re traveling with kids, set some rules at the outset of your journey. For instance, you may make yourself unavailable during certain times of the day so you can focus on the road. You might also ask that the TV be at a low volume, also cutting down on distractions. 
  • Put your phone on “do not disturb.” Nearly everyone uses their phone for directions, and this is certainly no exception if you’re taking a cross-country trip. You can silence phone calls, texts, and other notifications by enabling the “do not disturb” feature. 

RVs Sometimes Encourage Distracted Driving

You might look down at Google Maps and go, “Okay. If I pull an all-nighter, we can be at our destination by morning.” Drowsy driving isn’t an inherent part of an RV. However, it’s something to be aware of with long-haul trips. Falling asleep or closing your eyes at the wheel even for a second can prove disastrous.

The best way to avoid drowsy driving is to plan ahead. Map out certain rest stops so you can catch a few hours’ sleep before continuing your journey. If you’re traveling with a partner, maybe you can organize a “you drive for this long, I drive for this long” schedule.

The law takes drowsy driving seriously. In fact, truckers must abide by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)’s Hours of Service regulations, meaning motorists cannot drive for certain periods. If charged with drowsy driving, they could face fines, license suspension, and even jail time.

Consider Purchasing an RV with These Safety Features

Today’s RVs are designed safer than ever, boasting technologies unheard of in standard cars. While considering buying your home away from home, look for RVs with these features: 

  • Blind spot warning sensors. With this feature, if you’re about to hit something in your blind spot, a noise will alert you to the hazard, so you can adjust your driving accordingly. 
  • Rear-view cameras. For some, backing up their RV is a dreaded chore. However, with a back-up camera, you don’t have to leave your safety to chance. While backing up, the camera will explain how much clearance you have, as well as alert you to any hazards. 
  • High-beam recognition. This feature deactivates your RV’s high beams when another driver travels in the opposite direction. This increases your visibility and prevents you from being blinded by headlights. 

While this doesn’t pertain to driving, check for RVs that come with carbon monoxide detectors. It alerts you to any dangerous gas that may come from the RV’s generator or appliances. Most last for several years without needing a battery change. 

A Final Word

RVs are generally safe to drive. Yet, you should understand that driving one comes with certain risks not posed by passenger vehicles. Generally, it’s recommended to drive an RV for long-distance trips that a junky vehicle that’s waiting to be scrapped for cash might be suited for.

Before embarking on your next adventure, try driving your RV around the neighborhood or in an empty parking lot. That’ll give you a feeling of what it’s like to drive on the open road.

Written by Eric

37-year-old who enjoys ferret racing, binge-watching boxed sets and praying. He is exciting and entertaining, but can also be very boring and a bit grumpy.

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