I don’t usually step into the coarser neighborhood of language on the public blog but sometimes there’s no other way to say it. When we were traveling, we saw a lot of stupid and some of it was eye opening. The good news is that, most of the time, it was a cringe inducing memory that didn’t really impact us at all. Once in a great while it motivated us to choose another RV space.
The reason I bring it up here is some of what we saw crossed the line between stupid and downright dangerous. When you’re hauling 10,000 pounds or more down the highway at 70 mph, you’re basically piloting a missile. That’s a huge amount of inertia and losing control of all that weight going that fast makes you a potential threat to yourself and your fellow travelers sharing the road with you. Unfortunately I didn’t always think to take pictures of the insanity but here are the highlights.
I saw this a lot. Particularly too much trailer and not enough tow vehicle. Just because you can connect a hitch doesn’t mean your vehicle is rated for that load. That fact comes as a surprise to many people. The same with a fifth wheel hitch. Just because you have fifth wheel hitch does not mean you can forget about your safe towing and gross vehicle weights. I heard people wave of those concerns with lines like, “Ah, the manufacturers build some slack into the numbers.” I’m sure the NTSB would be surprised to hear that.
Forgetting About Overhead Obstacles
I used to put a note on the dash in front of me as a reminder to check the vertical clearance when pulling into a gas station or driving under a bridge. There’s nothing more sickening than the crunching sound of your camper hitting a gas station canopy or overhead obstruction. Hit one hard enough and it can shear your camper right off its frame. That’s a bigger problem if you happen to be living in that trailer.
This ranks right up there with the dumbest thing I ever saw on the road. A truck towing a camper with a boat trailer being towed behind the camper. It’s amazing to me that this is legal anywhere and, what’s even stranger is we saw it in a state where it’s not legal. You will sometimes see trucks on the road with dual trailers but those have special types of hitches and braking systems to make them stable. Your boat trailer does not have that stability equipment and that makes you a mobile road hazard. Pay someone to deliver that trailer for you. Sure, it’ll cost some money but that’s better than being dead or killing someone else on the highway.
As a former volunteer firefighter, I had to bite my tongue many times looking at overloaded power systems, homemade propane connections and people using space heaters and other risky practices. An RV in flames is the worst fire situation I can imagine. Fire in RV spreads fast and burns hot. Campers and RVs are required to have fire escape windows but try to figure those out in a smoke-filled trailer while standing under an oven broiler. Fire departments consider them vehicle fires and we never got to a camper or trailer fire in time to do anything except protect what was around the thing on fire. Most times, in the seven or eight minutes it took us to get there, the only thing left was cinders and the steel frame of the trailer.
Letting People Ride In The Trailer
At a highway rest area we witnessed a camper pull in with a couple in the truck. While we were watching, three kids piled out of the camper. Besides being legally sketchy it’s also seriously dangerous. Yet we saw that same scene many times. Don’t let passengers ride in the camper! In an accident, they’re basically a frog in a blender going 70 mph. Campers and RVs are not rated for passenger travel. If you want people inside while traveling then get a Class A or Class B. Those have crash rated seats and seatbelts for passengers.
Sadly, if I was going to recount every stupid thing we saw on the road, I’d be writing all day. Do a little research when choosing a truck/camper combination. Understand safe towing and gross vehicle weights. It’s not just your life, it’s also the people around you. Understand that you can’t run unlimited power through a camper electrical system or reroute propane lines on a whim. Just be smart and stay alive.