RV Accident Statistics and Key Takeaways


Published : March 15, 2023

RV Accident Statistics and Key Takeaways


When you purchase an RV, the last thing you want to think about is getting into an accident. But, unfortunately, it happens, so understanding RV accident statistics and what you can do to prevent it is a good idea. Knowing how to prevent an accident and your options if you are in one can help you stay safe and have confidence on the road.


Why RV Accident Statistics Are Important


Knowing why most RV accidents occur gives you actions you can take to stay safe. About 8.9 million people in the United States own an RV, and about 30 million consider themselves RV enthusiasts. Those who do not own one themselves rent them for vacations.


Of RV owners, about 10% are senior citizens. Interest continues to grow among younger generations, and millennials who drive RVs currently outnumber seniors. The stereotypical image of a senior citizen driving an RV is quickly becoming outdated.


Most Common RV Accident Causes


The same things as many car accidents cause most common RV accidents and fifth wheel accidents. Following another driver too closely, not checking your blind spot, and taking curves too fast are the most common driver errors. RVs do not require a special license or training as other non-standard vehicles do, and new drivers do not know what to expect. Here are some of the most common causes of RV accidents.


    • Speeding

    • Runaway trailers

    • Overloading the RV

    • High winds

    • Rollovers

    • Miscalculating curves

    • Misjudged stopping distances

    • Unbalanced loads

    • Overtired drivers


You might notice that many of these items are related to the height and profile of the vehicle. As a result, inexperienced drivers are more at risk for these accidents. Also, many are unaware that RVs require longer stopping distances than smaller passenger vehicles. Therefore, it would be best to consider these things to help prevent an accident.


Most Common RV Accidents


The most common RV accidents in the US include:


    • Rollovers

    • Collisions with other vehicles

    • Jackknife accidents

    • Tire blowouts

    • Lane departures

    • Running off the road

    • Backing accidents

    • Hitch failure.


In case of a major RV accident on the road or in an RV park, people should call 911, seek medical attention, exchange information with involved parties, contact the insurance company, and take pictures of the scene if possible.


Most Common RV Crash Injuries


The most common injuries in RV accidents are head injuries, fractures, cuts, and facial injuries. Most of these injuries are from coming into contact with objects inside the RV, especially items that are not secured. The next most common injury is spinal cord injuries resulting from the impact.


Tips for Preventing RV Accidents


These RV accident statistics provide important clues to help you stay safe on the road and enjoy many adventures. Of course, you should always practice good driving practices, especially in unfamiliar territory. Here are some tips to help you stay safe and have an enjoyable, trouble-free trip.


1. Use Safety Belts


Many RVs only have safety belts for the driver and front passenger. This means passengers riding on sofas or dining table benches have no protection in a crash and can be thrown around. Even if your RV does not have proper seatbelts for everyone, it is a good idea to take them to a dealer and install them.


2. Make Sure Items are Secure


Even if you are not in a crash, loose items can cause one. If you come to a sudden stop, items can fly off tables. This can cause a distraction or cause injury on its own. Before you head out, look around and ensure everything is in its place and properly secured.


3. Watch Your Speed


Driving too fast in an RV does not necessarily mean driving above the posted speed limit. It can mean driving too fast for the road conditions and your rig. An RV does not drive like a car, and the items’ weight can affect your ability to stay in control. When in doubt, it is always a good idea to slow down.


4. Secure Your Trailer Properly


One of the more common occurrences is that a trailer becomes unhitched and runs away. This is typically a result of using the wrong hitch size and not using safety chains. You can also use a hitch lock to keep it from jumping off. However, an unbalanced RV load can also make the hitch jump off.


5. Be Extra Careful with Blind Spots


RVs have larger blind-spot areas than passenger vehicles. Some of the most common causes of accidents is not realizing another vehicle is there when changing lanes. RVs have more blind spots than cars, so you must be extra cautious when pulling into and out of parking spaces. Using mirrors and cameras is the best way to avoid a blind-spot accident.


6. Avoid Driving in Strong Winds or When Tired


Large vehicles with flat sides are a target for crosswinds. RVs can be difficult to control when there are strong winds. They can even be blown into oncoming traffic in the next lane. Driving when tired or otherwise impaired is another common cause of accidents. When you combine these two, it increases the risk of an accident even more.


7. Know How to Load Your Rig Properly


An unbalanced load can cause the rig to want to drift to one side, which makes it difficult to control. It can also add to the risk of a rollover accident. When loading your RV or trailer, ensure you know how to do it properly. Overloading your vehicle with too much weight can cause a potential accident. An overloaded vehicle will have increased stopping distance and cannot corner as easily.


8. Become Familiar with Your Vehicle


One of the main causes of RV accidents is inexperienced drivers or those who have only recently purchased a new RV. It can be especially difficult to move up to a larger rig. You should calculate a proper turning arc for an RV of your size. It would help if you also got used to how it feels when you are parking or backing up. When you purchase your RV, getting used to how it handles around town is a good idea before you head out on a longer trip.


9. Keep Your Vehicle in Good Repair


Keeping your RV in good repair is another way to prevent an accident. This is especially true for the braking system. First, you should develop a routine maintenance schedule according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Then, before you head out, ensure you have your RV serviced and checked by a professional.


10. Bad Brakes and Stopping Distance


Many new drivers do not realize that an RV takes longer to stop than a passenger vehicle. When you have it fully loaded, this distance increases even more. Knowing the stopping distance at various speeds is important before you take it out. Also, your brakes take a lot of abuse, so ensure they are in good repair.


11. Know Your Route


RVs do not respond to sudden changes as easily as passenger cars. Having a GPS that will give you plenty of warning before you make a turn is a good idea. A sudden steering wheel jerk to try to make a turn you almost missed can cause a rollover accident, especially if you overcorrect. Also, an RV’s high center of gravity makes it more prone to tip. Smooth and steady is the best way to keep control of your RV.


Are RVs Safe in a Crash?


RVs have a reputation for being unsafe, but when you compare fatality statistics, RVs have about one-third the fatality rate of other vehicles. You need to know that RV manufacturers do not have the same standards as passenger vehicles. It is up to the individual manufacturer to perform crash tests. The RV manufacturer often performs a crash test on the frame and not the finished unit.


When it comes to preventing injuries in a crash, it depends on the individual manufacturer. RVs with safety features like blind-spot information systems designed for RVs, airbags, and other safety equipment is best. When choosing an RV to purchase, it is easy to become caught up in the latest luxury amenities, but it is a good idea to look for one that offers advanced safety features, too.


Safest Motorhomes to Drive


According to the most recent RV accident statistics, the type of RV you choose impacts how well it performs in a crash. Seat belt regulations differ from state to state among Class A motorhomes. Some states only require seat belts for those in the front seat. Others require everyone to buckle up, regardless of where you sit.


Class A motorhomes are considered the least safe option. The Class A motorhome industry suffers from a lack of building standards. Their sheer size offers some additional protection in a crash, but many do not include any additional crash protection, like airbags or crumple zones. In addition, some are steel, and others are fiberglass, which affects crash performance.


Class C rigs are considered the mid-range when it comes to safety. Class C rigs often have factory-installed seat belts and airbags for the front passengers. However, they do not often have the same protection as others seated in the back. As a result, many injuries occur when passengers outside the front cabin are thrown around and hit objects.


Class B camper vans are the safest option. They are built on frames that have been safety tested. They also have a full range of seatbelts and airbags to protect passengers. In addition, they are built more closely to the standards used by passenger vehicles.


You might want to note that refrigerators, as are propane appliances, are a top cause of RV fires. It is important to ensure you get one from a reliable company and use it according to the directions. Make sure to purchase a refrigerator specially designed for an RV. Not all miniature refrigerators are compatible with RV electrical systems.


Is It Worth Repairing a Crashed RV?


Like a passenger vehicle, whether the RV is worth repairing after a crash depends on several factors. The first is the extent of the damage. Repairs to an RV can be more expensive than comparable repairs to a passenger vehicle. RV repair requires special knowledge and skills. Even if your RV is repaired by a professional, it will still lose some resale value.


Some of the most expensive components to repair include:


    • Refrigerator

    • Roof A/C

    • Leveling system

    • Suspension

    • Generator


The next question you probably have is, “what do you do with your RV after a crash?” The answer to this depends on how much the repairs will cost versus how much your RV is currently worth. If the repair cost is more than the vehicle’s value, most insurance companies will total it. Unless you have the skills, it is always best to take your RV to a professional for repair.


What to Do with a Totaled RV


If your RV was totaled in an accident, you might think your only option is to take it to a junkyard. Before you commit to this option, you might want to look around your area for special buyers who will buy your RV in any condition for a good price. It is worth a few phone calls because it can help offset the loss.


The most recent RV accident statistics give us many clues that can help you stay safe on the road. One of the most important takeaways is to become familiar with your rig before you take it out on a long trip. Ensure you know how long it takes to stop and how it corners. Keeping safety at the top of your checklist before heading out is the best way to ensure a relaxing and enjoyable journey.



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