Given the extraordinary landscapes in Alaska, it’s no wonder that recreational vehicles (RVs) are so prevalent in this state. However, they can also be dangerous. No special license is needed to drive RVs, so people behind the wheel of these vehicles are often inexperienced. They may also be towing other vehicles or driving too fast, further increasing the potential for a deadly crash.
Classes of RVs: Which Has the Most Potential for Disaster?
Each of the three classes of recreational vehicles is subject to a different set of safety codes. The vehicle’s class is based on its size, and there are safety advantages and disadvantages to each type of vehicle:
- Class A. These large motorhomes might appear to be safer given their large size, but it depends on how they are built. Those that are built on a commercial diesel bus chassis are pricey, but they are also more crashworthy. Class A RVs that are built on a flat truck chassis are more affordable, but they also provide less stability. These vehicles have seatbelts, but frequently, there are no airbags, so the driver and front passenger have a minimal buffer between them and what they might be hitting.
- Class B. These are often referred to as camper vans, and they are usually equipped with airbags. The safest position for passengers is buckled into the seat next to the driver.
- Class C. These RVs are built on a truck cabin chassis, offering the same level of safety as a truck, provided the driver and passengers are wearing their seatbelts. It should be noted, however, that the living cabin is not crash-tested and will not stand up to a crash.
In all classes of RVs, passengers are always safest wearing their seatbelts and should never walk around the back while the vehicle is moving.
Common Causes of RV Accidents
RV accidents are more common than most people think, with the following items often being a factor:
- Speed. Speeding is never a good idea, regardless of what vehicle you are in, because it is one of the surest ways to put yourself at a higher risk of crashing. When you are speeding, you might not have enough time to brake correctly, and if you are towing a trailer, its weight could put you right into the vehicle ahead of you. Most experts recommend staying below 60 miles per hour if you are in an RV.
- High winds. Because of the RV’s higher profile and slower speeds, high winds can put you at risk of flipping the vehicle. One of the ways you can minimize the impact of wind is to park in an area that does not have overhanging trees. You should also try to park with the RV pointing in the direction of the oncoming wind.
- Fatigue. A tired driver is an unsafe driver, and fatigue often goes with the territory of driving an RV. Rest stops and camping sites can be noisy, keeping RV drivers from getting proper rest.
- Loading problems. If your RV is overloaded and you get into an accident, the crash will be deemed your fault. Be sure to weigh your RV after you’ve packed it up. Also, make sure your belongings are loaded evenly to avoid causing your vehicle to pull in one direction.
- Detached trailer. If you are pulling a trailer and your towing hitch fails, your trailer can completely separate from the vehicle and hit other drivers.
- Rollover. Because an RV has a higher center of gravity, it is more prone to a rollover than many other vehicles.
- Miscalculating a turn. Turning a corner is much different in an RV than in a car, especially if you are towing a trailer. Spend some time practicing turning and stopping before you hit the road.
Have You Been Injured in an Alaska Vehicle Accident?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car or RV accident, you need to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact Anchorage car injury lawyer Ben Crittenden to schedule your free consultation.