It’s time for your winter road trip! Stay alert and focused – safe RV driving for adventuring snowbirds.
A winter RV trip is so exciting – so long ice, snow, and frigid temperatures! Hello, summer weather – if you get to your lovely destination safely. Chances are, you don’t drive your RV like a formula one driver. But it’s not unusual to underestimate fatigue and distractions when it comes to safe RV driving.
Before we get into the ins and outs of safe RV driving, here is a quick Q and A:
Q: How long does it take to send or read a text message, taking your eyes off the road?
A: A whopping five seconds! Think that’s not very long? Well, consider this: if you drive at 90 km/h, five seconds is the same as driving the length of a football field. But… with your eyes closed!
If you drive distracted, your likelihood of being in a near accident or crashing is a whopping eight times more likely. According to recent data, distracted drivers are responsible for 20-30% of all motor vehicle accidents. That equates to more than 1000 automobile injuries and fatalities every year.
The truth is, anything that compromises your attention while driving – eating and drinking, adjusting your radio, even chatting with passengers – can make for a distracted driver. So, as plans come together for your adventure, your winter escape, here are several ways you can reduce distractions and prioritize safe RV driving:
The obvious for safe RV driving – no texting!
It may seem obvious – texting while driving is simply downright dangerous. And potentially fatal. But the sad fact is texting and talking on a mobile phone is still a problem despite all evidence pointing to the dangers.
Don’t even sneak a peek! Don’t take a second to program your map for directions. When your phone chimes, it can be simply too tempting to sneak a glimpse at who or what it is.
Your phone is simply a huge distraction. Silence it – set it to ‘do not disturb’ mode – to help you avoid any temptation. Make a point to delay calls, texts, and emails on your device. There’s no message or phone call that is worth risking your life or that of your passengers or other drivers. Ignore texts and let any calls go to voicemail while you’re driving.
And that includes checking it at stoplights. Keep in mind, in some places, you can get a ticket if law enforcement sees you using your phone at a traffic light. When you’re on the road, you can take advantage of your Bluetooth and voice commands to make a hands-free text or call, BUT it’s still a distraction. Even while your hands are on the wheel, your attention is elsewhere. Use these electronic tools sparingly – only when absolutely necessary!
Get organized – before you drive!
When it comes to safe RV driving, a good strategy is to plan your route and take care of all the details before you hit the road. Program your maps or GPS. Adjust your mirrors, seats, and radio before you step on the gas. Secure loose items – water bottles – to prevent them from moving or rolling around on the floor and getting underfoot. Anything can happen when you take your eyes off the road to reach for something on the floor.
Reserve your stays ahead of time for those first nights. It’ll minimize what you have to manage while on the road. Secure your passengers – pets and kids. When they need your attention, pull over in a safe location and take care of their needs. When you reach back, losing control of the vehicle can happen easily.
Don’t multitask while driving
Chances are, you take every precaution to achieve safe RV driving. However, many miles and so many hours on the road can lull you into complacency. It’s tempting to try to get little things done while on the road – reserve that table at a great restaurant or the evening’s campsite, book appointments, and catch up with family or friends.
Something we all do – eat and drink while we drive. This is an activity we don’t consider a proper distraction. Unfortunately, for those of us who love to snack ‘n drive – it is distracting. Food and drink spills can be a significant distraction. Unsealing, unwrapping, and arranging in your cupholder or in your lap take your attention off the road. Sometimes for a surprising amount of time.
Avoid it as best you can. If you must take care of those things, pull over at a safe location and stop. Or, let a passenger take care of it as you drive. You need to focus on the road and the other vehicles around you.
Stay alert – stop driving when sleepy
We’re all guilty of pushing through fatigue on a long road trip. We want to get to our destination as quickly as possible. But, according to statistics from the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, 21% of motor vehicle accidents in Canada occur due to fatigue and drowsiness. It might surprise you to learn that it’s as big a problem as using a phone behind the wheel or driving impaired.
When you’re sleepy, you have a slower reaction time, with decision-making seriously compromised. You tend to behave less rationally and more impulsively. Fatigued drivers suffer from blurred vision, and their eyes are more sensitive to light. Focus is severely compromised, and it’s easier to get confused.
How to manage fatigue while driving?
- The most effective solution – park in a safe location, lower your seat and enjoy a short snooze! 15 minutes of shut-eye is often all you need to get you back on the road, refreshed.
- Pull over and get out for a few minutes to stretch your legs. Stretch your arms, roll your neck and shoulders, and take some deep breaths of fresh air.
- To make the very most of your snooze break, try drinking a caffeinated beverage in the moments before your nap. In the time after your rest, the caffeine starts to take effect.
Your passengers and safe RV driving
Passengers make a road trip just that much more fun. But don’t be afraid to put them to work! Let them answer a phone call or send a text. Assign them to navigation duty, programming maps and the GPS.
Enjoy their company and be sure to keep conversations light – avoid controversy and conflict. Hard or emotional conversations can pose quite a distraction, with serious or even dangerous consequences in some cases.
Focus and alertness are vital to safe RV driving and safe driving, generally. Behind the wheel, do what you can to maintain and sustain your attention on the road.
Enjoy your upcoming RV vacation. Be safe!
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