Avoid the Dangers of RV Living

For many people, living in an RV, even part-time, can be a wonderful respite from the everyday pressures of suburban or city living. After all, who doesn’t love the idea of taking to the open road and roughing it for a while? Better yet, who doesn’t love the idea of taking the comforts of home on vacation?

But the same dangers of living in a house exist for living in an RV. Your RV can catch fire and burn to the ground. Not to mention, with all the hours RV owners spend driving, the potential for car accidents are multiplied. The more driving you do, the higher your chances that you’ll get into an accident. In other words, the chances of your experiencing a disaster are multiplied.

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An even more serious danger is the risk of injury or even death, and buying the biggest, most expensive RV on the market won’t make you any safer. Motor homes are often exempt from the crash and rollover tests that are routinely conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for cars, trucks, and buses, because currently the government does not mandate rollover or crash tests for recreational vehicles. (According to this article, the most dangerous can be Class A motor homes.)

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Not only should you purchase RV Insurance designed to cover your RV (not just beefed-up auto insurance), you can prevent tragedy by looking for features. And by “features” we don’t mean that cool button that turns on your HDTV. You may have to pay top dollar for customized safety features, but it’s worth it. Currently the NHTSA employs minimal braking standards for RV’s—and that’s for an empty chassis.

Once all the features, such as wall-installed HDTVs, refrigerators, and stoves are installed, the balance of an RV can change, making crashes that much more dangerous. All the insurance in the world isn’t going to make up for your losing a loved one because your RV crumpled like a piece of paper at the first sign of stress.

Look for an RV that has a solid structure. If it appears some wood panels have been slapped onto a steel frame, don’t buy. Look for manufacturers who tout the safety of their vehicles; also contact them to find out what kinds of materials and structures they use to build their vehicles. (One, the now-defunct Western RV, had an Alpine Coach design that held up well under research. It featured aircraft-quality aluminum framing and polystyrene insulation that was bonded together to make a solid wall and roof structure.)

According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association,  the “NHTSA (The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) hasn’t crash tested finished motor homes because they are fundamentally safe– there simply haven’t been enough deaths to warrant the cost of purchasing and testing these types of vehicles.”

Indeed, even consumer advocacy groups such as Consumer Reports don’t regularly report on the quality and safety of RV’s. But the laws can change if enough people demand it. If you want more safety features added to RV’s, or if you want the NHTSA to conduct safety tests and devise standards for RV manufacturers, you can contact Regulations.gov, a website devoted to public input on law-making.


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