Vacationing in a motorhome or recreational vehicle has become increasingly popular. Whether for reasons of comfort or economy, Americans take to the highways in RVs for days, weeks or even months at a time. It’s not unusual to see an RV or camper bearing dozens of decals, each representing a past destination for the travelers. From coast to coast, Americans are seeing the U.S.A. at their own pace and from their own home-on-wheels.
The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association says about 9 million households own an RV. On rural roads, interstate highways and bustling city streets, they share the road with much smaller cars, SUVs and pickup trucks. Their size and lack of maneuverability can make them hazardous, as can their unskilled drivers.
The Indiana RV accident lawyers of McNeely Stephenson have helped many families who were victims of motor vehicle accidents. We have been successfully litigating personal injury cases across Indiana since 1982, putting our experience and abilities to work advocating for the rights of injured Hoosiers from Elkhart County (where more than 60% of RVs are made) to Posey, from Vermilion to Wayne. Call 855-206-2555 today to schedule a free consultation about your motorhome accident.
Types of Recreational Vehicles on Indiana Roads
Recreational vehicles come in all shapes, sizes and price ranges. They are generally classified as follows:
- Class B motorhomes, also commonly referred to as van conversions, are the smallest fully enclosed motorhomes. They generally weigh 6,000 to 8,000 pounds, are 17 to 19 feet in length, and are easier to handle than larger models.
- Class C motorhomes range in weight from 10,000 to 12,000 pounds and stretch from 20 feet to 31 feet in length, usually with a sleeping bunk over the cab as well as a bedroom and kitchen in the rear of the unit. Many have slideouts to extend the living space when parked.
- Class A motorhomes are the largest, most luxurious RVs on the road. Often built on a bus or truck chassis, they can be up to 45 feet long and 8.5 feet wide. At the touch of a button, Class A motorhome owners can extend their unit’s exterior walls outward to add additional living space.
Common Causes of RV Accidents
Some motorhomes are as long as a truck, requiring skills and precautions not typical of passenger vehicles. Nevertheless, unlike drivers of buses or tractor trailers, drivers of RVs do not have to obtain a commercial driver’s license. Anyone with a regular driver’s license can get behind the wheel of a motorhome, and some cause accidents because they make one of these common mistakes:
- Taking a turn too fast
- Making a turn too tightly
- Underestimating the distance needed to bring the RV to a stop
- Failing to see other vehicles because of the RV’s large blind spot
- Improperly securing items being towed behind the RV
- Overloading the motorhome.
In addition to driver error, certain characteristics of motorhomes themselves can contribute to the likelihood of an accident:
- Tires. Because it is common for RVs to be parked for long periods of time between trips, their tires may suffer sidewall deterioration, or dry rot. This condition, combined with the heavy load motorhome tires must carry, can cause tire failure on the road and an accident with serious consequences. Even if the vehicle’s tires are in good condition, under-inflation can cause RV tire failure.
- Tendency to tip over. With their tall, narrow profile, RVs are more likely than other vehicles to roll over if the driver swerves to avoid a road hazard or inexpertly negotiates a curve.
- Sway. Very often, vacationers choose to tow a passenger vehicle behind their motorhome for getting around after they set up at the campground. Problems with the hitch can create a sway that endangers the RV occupants as well as others on the road.