Key Points of This Article:
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the summer months have 29% more crash-related deaths than winter months, making it one of the deadliest times of the year to be traveling on roads.
- Inexperienced RV and motorhome drivers, as well as improper camp and boat tows, can make for an extra hazardous and accident-prone summer season in Michigan.
- Drivers who aren’t confident operating an RV or towing a load, should prepare their vehicles ahead of time, and rethink liability responsibilities before hitting the road.
- At the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C., we will do what it takes to get your accident case resolved quickly so you can enjoy your summer. We can help file claims against negligent drivers and answer your Michigan no-fault law questions.
Road Safety Reminders to Help You Avoid a Summer RV or Camper Accident
During the summer months, roads are naturally more congested with road-trippers and tourists, inexperienced teen drivers, hard-to-see motorcycles, and road construction, all of which increase the risk of traffic accidents. Some of those travelers are driving recreational vehicles (RVs), and towing campers, off-road vehicles, and boats to their favorite destinations like Bay City, Traverse City, and Port Huron.
So, as more Michiganders begin to venture outdoors after an extended and safe COVID-19 quarantine, many will choose a social distancing camping destination in their motorhome or with a recreational load in tow. This makes it the best time to check-in on our list of summer RV and towing-vehicle road safety reminders.
- Educate Yourself
If you are driving a motorhome or towing a trailer, be sure you understand your vehicle’s height and weight, and consider how maneuverability may impact road safety. Navigating a busy city, merging, checking blind spots, braking, and yielding will require more strategy, observation, and patience.
If you are towing a camper or boat, be sure to know the rating for your vehicle and use the appropriate hitch. If your pickup truck is pulling a fifth-wheel trailer or large, multiple tows, take time to understand speeds, trailer width, and the number of vehicles a driver is allowed to tow before you set off on your adventure.
- Look Up RV and Towing Regulations for the States You Plan to Visit
In Michigan, trailers weighing 2,500 lbs. or more must be equipped with turn signals, and red or amber rear stop lights visible from at least 100 feet. Also, RV and towing laws require special equipment on trailers heavier than 3,000 lbs.:
- One rear stop light and an amber reflector near the front of each side
- A red reflector near the back of each side of the trailer
- Two amber clearance lights on the front of the vehicle and one on each side, visible from at least 500 feet
- Single red clearance lights near the rear of each side of the trailer
- Two red clearance lights on the back of the trailer
- Working brakes (trailers weighing over 5,500 lbs. must have brakes strong enough to stop the trailer’s movement and hold it in place)
So be sure to know the laws, not just here in Michigan, but for any state you might be traveling through. You may have to add taillights, safety chains, extra mirrors, or braking equipment to prevent an accident and also to avoid an expensive ticket.
- Vehicle Prep and Hook Up Safety
Whenever you get ready to drive your motorhome, or hook up the trailer or boat to your tow vehicle, prepare a precheck to make sure that all things are connected and working.
- Check the tire pressure. It is likely they will need attention after sitting all winter or after adding a load.
- When connecting your tow, chains should be well greased and not corroded. They will serve as an extra safety measure and a last effort if the tongue loses grip on the ball of the hitch.
- After turning on the lights, walk to the back of the trailer and look to see parking lamps, turn signals, brake lights, and flashers are on and working.
- Double-check any wiring harness.
- Don’t forget to check your brake battery as well. Faulty wiring or lengthy cold winter storage can drain a battery.
- Schedule an inspection with a licensed mechanic to check for cracked belts and hoses if you don’t know what to look for.
If you are unsure how to prepare and check your motorhome or tow vehicle, either learn how to – or better yet – entrust the help from someone who does.
- Take a Test Drive in a Parking Lot to Feel Control of Brakes and Speed
Before you hit the road, spend some time in an empty parking lot to practice turning, braking, switching lanes, speeding up and slowing down. Be sure to search for blind spots and add external mirrors if needed. The goal here is to feel comfortable maneuvering your RV or tow vehicle.
When driving an RV or towing a camper, you should not feel a need for speed and remember that the extra weight you are carrying will require a little more time in braking and a greater distance and reaction time from the vehicles in front of you. And remember, the trailer you are towing should not drift more than three inches to either side of the path of the towing vehicle when traveling in a straight line on a level, smooth, paved surface.
If you need guidance, you can sign up for an RV driving course to better understand your limitations and ensure an accident-free trip for you and your family.
- Enlist a Secondary Driver or Passenger Helper
If you are traveling with others, it is a good idea to have another passenger help with driving so you can rest and avoid drowsy driving. This passenger can also keep distractions away by helping you navigate routes, identify any road or weather hazards, and find potential routes and detours while you focus on safe driving.
In the last decade, nearly a quarter-million of people have been injured in RV and tow-related collisions. Despite taking all the precautions listed and more, in some cases, it is another driver’s negligent actions that will force the driver of an RV or tow vehicle to make a quick driving decision that ruined not only their summer but also caused a damaging wreck. Stay safe!
Request Accident Help for Your RV or Summer Car Crash in Michigan
After you have been in a motor vehicle, RV, or towing accident this summer, it is reasonable to have questions about what might be covered and who is responsible. It’s our job as personal injury attorneys to hear what you have to say, review the policies involved, examine what Michigan laws apply, and seek out the benefits that are rightfully yours. Let us take on the legal fight for the compensation you deserve so you can carry on with your summertime fun.
Call the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. toll-free at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) for a free consultation. And remember, you pay nothing until we settle your car accident case.