Mar 232010

Over the years I’ve had dozens, if not hundreds, of new and wannabe RVers ask me about personal safety on the road, and in spite of our own encounter with a burglar last December, I always tell them that they have a lot more to worry about from the fool hurtling down the highway toward them riding three tons of steel, than they do from a criminal.

Our own experience aside, violent crime falls way, way low on the list of threats we RVers face every day. Pure ignorance, carelessness, and neglect on the part of others present much more danger.

For example, check out the tires on an RV that my friend Dennis Hill has on his blog post for March 21st. Can you imagine what could happen if one of the tires on this RV were to blow while he was passing or coming at you on the highway? Pretty scary, huh? But consider what might happen to any bystander if one of those tires explodes while sitting still. The shrapnel from a tire explosion can be deadly. That’s why you will see tire safety cages in many big truck shops. 

A campground is about the safest place you can be, in terms of crime. But that doesn’t mean you are insulated from danger.  We have seen campers start fires and then walk away from them, or go inside to bed without putting them out, even on breezy or downright windy days. We have watched many big rig owners driving down campground roads at rates of speed that I wouldn’t even drive my van in such close quarters. We have also seen frayed extension cords stretched out on wet ground to reach electrical pedestals.

At an RV rally in California years ago, we met an elderly couple that made me want to stay off the highway until I knew that they were at least a hundred miles away. The husband could barely see and was legally blind, so his wife, who did not know how to drive, sat close beside him in a folding chair and helped him stay in the correct lane while serving as his eyes!

At the same rally, we met another couple who pulled a huge fifth wheel with a 3/4 ton pickup truck. The husband had injured his ankle and was getting around on crutches, so I was helping him get the rig ready to travel after the rally. Once we had his fifth wheel connected and secured, I could not find a place to connect the trailer’s electrical cable to the truck. I asked the gentleman where to plug it in, and he told me he never had used it. I told him that without the cable, his trailer brakes wouldn’t work, and he replied “Oh, it takes a long time to stop this thing!”

This couple had purchased the trailer in the Portland, Oregon area, did not have a truck capable of towing (or stopping) it, had no trailer brakes, and had been driving all over the western United States for five or six months! How they managed not to kill themselves or someone else to that point amazed me!

Now, you can say that it was reprehensible for an RV salesman to sell somebody a trailer that size and tell them that their truck was capable of pulling it, and for not making sure that they knew how to set it up for towing. But the RVing community has to take some responsibility for themselves, too. Anybody who buys an RV and takes off down the highway without educating themselves about their rig and how to safely operate it has no business on the road. But there are a lot of them out there!

People don’t pose the only threats. We have encountered pit bulls running loose in an RV park, and even had a raccoon with distemper wander into our campsite once. And on and on.

So does that mean that RVing is not safe? Well, yeah, but then again, life isn’t safe! None of us are going to get out of it alive. But overall, I’d rather live the RV lifestyle than spend my days any other way. I just try to keep my eyes open to the hazards around me, no matter where I am.

Thought For The Day – Dream big, and dare to fail.

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  7 Responses to “Things That Make You Cringe”

  1. We were eatting lunch at a VA rest area a few years back as a elderly woman drug out a walker and helped a elderly man out of a 38-40 foot DP, towing a car, that was parked besdie us. He had a oxygen tank over his shoulder and went into the restrooms taking “baby steps” while struggling with the walker. While were were giving our dogs well deserved break, they returned, holding up traffic as they slowly made their way across the pavement and back to the motorhome. Of course you’ve guessed what happened next, after being helped back into the motorhome, he took his place behind the wheel and headed slowly down I-81.

  2. In the laundry at our park I greeted a gentleman who was having difficulty seeing any vacant machines. I think he was having difficulty seeing anything. But he started rambling on about his life, where he’d been, etc. That would be OK, but he stopped often, seemingly trying to get his focus (mental as well as visual) back. He’d jist stop and stare, then shortly be on a different topic. In addition, he had to hang onto the furniture to be able to continue standing.

    Now, that’s not the issue. We all hope to grow older and we know that we may be faced with physical or mental difficulties. However, when I was about finished with my laundry, this 90-year old gentleman hobbled to his car and drove off. I certainly hope he was able to see his way to where he was going, or even remember where it was he was suppposed to be going.

  3. The lack of brakes is a serious issue, but how about taillights, brake lights and turn signals, oh wait, a guy like that never uses turn signals anyway. Unbelievable.

  4. I have always wondered why there isn’t a special license catagory for driving a motor home or pulling an RV trailer and I was told by a dealer that the RV industry has a large lobby in Washington and all the states to fight it because thay would lose 1/2 of the RV sales if they could only sell to people who were qualified to drive one.

  5. Just last night I watched a huge class c on a Freightliner chassis pulling an F-250 run over a row of orange cones. He didn’t have a clue. He coulneeds lessons from Dennis Hill

  6. Just wait until all the retiring Baby Boomers hit the road — it’s gonna be a war zone out there!

  7. After your second Rally in Casa Grande the LOWS came in to dance. One older lady was furious at her Ford F250. She bought it used along with a LARGE Teton 5th wheel. To date she had replaced the truck’s transmission twice! I asked if she had checked out the tow weight rating and had her 5th wheel weighed. Well, she let me know it had nothing to do with weight — it is Ford’s poor product. Hmmmmmmmmmmm.

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