By Mark Polk
RV Education 101
About this time of year lots of folks start organizing their fall and winter motorhome travel plans. Snowbirds head to warmer climates, while others plan ski trips, hunting trips, Thanksgiving and Christmas trips and everything in between.
Traffic on our highways increases dramatically before, during and after major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. I thought this would be a good time to discuss some safe holiday travel tips so you arrive at your fall or winter RV travel destination safely. Getting there can be half the fun, as the saying goes, if you take a few precautions to make your trip safe.
Here are my top 7 tips for safe holiday travel:
1. The first step is to plan the trip you are taking. Travel guides, magazines, state tourism boards and Internet sites offer valuable information to help you plan your trip. Route your trip on a map or from an Internet trip-planning site. Always keep an atlas or maps in the motorhome. Driving a motorhome can be stressful, especially if you don’t know the route you will be traveling. Using a Global Positioning System (GPS) can make traveling much less stressful.
2. Complete a “Pre-Trip Checklist” before you head out on the road. Simple checks like checking your tires, lights, fluid levels, tow bar setup and other items all contribute to a safer trip. You should make these checks everyday before traveling.
3. Take plenty of breaks when you’re traveling. Stopping, stretching out and taking brief walks can revitalize you. Do not rush to get to your vacation destination. Driving too fast and for long periods of time can result in fatigue and falling asleep at the wheel. If you feel tired you should pull over and rest or change drivers. It’s a good idea to switch drivers every few hours.
4. Avoid driving your motorhome during inclement weather and in high winds. Because of the size and mass of motorhomes it can be extremely dangerous to travel during periods of high winds. It’s better to get to your destination one day later, than to risk traveling in bad weather conditions.
5. Limit your driving time to five or six hours a day (300 to 350 miles). Not only will you be more alert, but you will arrive at the campground with plenty of daylight to get set up and settled in before it gets dark outside. This gives you a chance to unwind and get rested for another day of travel, and to enjoy some of the amenities the campground has to offer.
6. Always leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you. A motorhome is much heavier than your automobile and requires more braking distance to come to a stop. This alone can prevent accidents, especially during emergency braking. Driving at a safe speed also lowers your braking distance. Always use a supplemental braking system on the vehicle you are towing behind a motorhome.
7. Drive defensively! Stay alert and monitor what is going on around you at all times. Adjust and use your mirrors.
Note: Cell phones are nice to have for emergencies, but they can distract the driver. Do not use a cell phone if you are driving. If you must make a call, have someone that is not driving do it for you.
Never drink and drive!
Plan your trip, travel safe and smart and enjoy your RV experiences. Remember, getting there is half the fun.
|RV expert Mark Polk owns RV Education 101, a North Carolina-based company that produces and sells educational videos, DVDs and E-books on how to use RVs. Mark has more than 30 years of experience in RV maintenance. He retired from the U.S. Army in 1996 as a Chief Warrant Officer Three, specializing in wheeled and track vehicle fleet maintenance operations. He and his wife, Dawn, started RV Education 101 in 1999. They travel with their two boys in a 35-foot Type A motorhome.