How Do RV Accidents Happen?

Spring is officially here, which means summer and vacation season are just on the horizon. Each year, families all over the country pack into their RVs and hit the open road. While RVing can be a great way to see all our country has to offer, it’s also the cause of thousands of injuries and deaths each year. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, more than 75,000 people suffered RV accidents in 2012. Many of these were fatal. According the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, 212 people died in motor homes between 2000 and 2007.

Recreational vehicles are harder to maneuver than traditional motor vehicles, yet states do not require a commercial license or any special training. As long as you’re at least 21 years old and have a driver’s license, you can drive an RV. Unfortunately, this is one of the reasons why RV accidents are so common.

The following are the most common reasons for accidents involving recreational vehicles:

Inexperienced Drivers

Large vehicles like campers and RVs present an inherent danger to other drivers, passengers, and cyclists on the road. Combined with inexperience, these vehicles can become deadly. Difficulty steering and nervousness can both play a role in motor vehicle crashes.

Additionally, about 10% of RV drivers are senior citizens. The elderly may have difficulty steering an RV due to difficulty seeing or having a slower reaction time.

Distracted Driving

Like all other vehicles, motor homes are more likely to crash if a distracted driver is operating them. We often associate distracted driving with texting, but in reality it’s any activity that takes a driver’s attention from the road. Examples include eating and drinking, using a map, playing with the radio, or even engaging in a heated conversation with a passenger. To minimize your risk of injury, know your route before hitting the road or designate a navigator. Take frequent breaks and eat and drink at a rest stop, not while driving.


Speeding is a major contributing factor in car accidents across all weight classes, including campers and motor homes. Since campers are large trucks, it’s wise to observe a slower speed limit. These vehicles take longer to slow down, so drivers need extra reaction time to stop or adjust for shifting traffic.

Motor homes also have a higher center of gravity, so speeding increases your rollover risk. A high speed combined with a poorly managed turn could spell disaster for your vehicle and its passengers.

Take your time when driving an RV. Part of the fun is the journey itself, so slow down and encourage your passengers to look out the window at the beautiful scenery along the way.

Blind Spots

Each vehicle has a blind spot, but RV blind spots are typically much larger. Failure to check a blind spot could cause a serious accident. When changing lanes or merging in an RV:

  • Make your intent to merge known long before you begin the move – use your turn signal to give cars advance warning.
  • Turn your entire body to check your blind spot
  • Merge slowly, giving any cars in your blind spot time to react

Poorly Balanced Loads

Improper loading can also make an RV more difficult to maneuver, increasing the risk of rollover. Load all your cargo as evenly as possible within the designated areas, and encourage your passengers to spread out evenly within the cabin.

RVs make a great vacation vehicle, but they’re not without their hazards. From their bulky design to their higher risk of rolling over, motor homes are involved in many accidents each year. Take a few simple steps to reduce your risk of a crash. If you have been involved in an RV accident, contact the attorneys at Larry R. Williams, PLLC for more information or a free case evaluation.