The infamous RV, on American highways at all times of the year, is especially present during the warm summer months. Never more obviously than when you’re stuck behind one. Packed with families and those accoutrements that just can’t be left behind, motor homes hit the road and take up much of it. Not only are they a big investment for those who own them – they are also a large obstacle for many motorists who share the road. The extra care and caution it takes to navigate around these vehicles can be like passing a semi. Particularly on windy roads or hills that keep the RV from maintaining the flow of traffic, it can be a stressful moment to many drivers on Bellingham and Whatcom County roads.

A poorly balanced RV, especially one traveling at high speeds, can cause unavoidable collisions with other vehicles, sometimes with tragic results. Because of their size compared to a car or even an SUV, the outcome of these accidents nearly always favors the RV. The troubling thing with motor homes is that they fall into a gray area of licensing, somewhere between a large commercial transport vehicle and a common double axel truck. What’s more, besides a Class D motor vehicle license, they don’t require a special type of license to operate. That means anyone, without any standardized, specialized training, can get behind the wheel and onto the road with other drivers in the state of Washington. The upshot of this is that no matter the size of the RV, or the complexity of operating it, if it’s not being used for commercial purposes, then just about anyone over age 25 can buy and pilot one.

As you can imagine, it takes a certain skill and experience level to safely drive one of these giant traveling homes.  They take longer to stop, need to make wider turns, and are all around wider, heavier, and more unwieldy than most every other vehicle out there. Inexperienced and senior drivers are faced with the following factors that can contribute to complications on the road:

  • Not enough practice to make perfect: Since motor homes aren’t used as the primary vehicle, they can sit for a long time, often during the wetter winter months we experience in Bellingham and Whatcom County. Even while complying with the usual yearly state inspection, this gives them time for things to get rusty, and not just the driver’s skill level. What can result is hidden mechanical problems that can affect the vehicle’s safety, and give the driver some extra complications to navigate while on vacation.
  • Poorly Balanced: Their awkward size and shape goes almost without saying. One of their bigger challenges is a center of gravity that can change depending on how it’s packed and driven. This makes RVs liable to tip or flip over, or roll, even on days with great visibility and dry roads.
  • Bigger Does Not Mean Better: While most motor home owners have a solid idea of how much real estate they take up on the road, some do not. Those drivers that make a choice to drive without this awareness – driving too close to other vehicles, for example, or driving drunk or distracted – put everyone at risk.

If you, a family memory or friend have been impacted by a collison with a motor home, give Bill Coats a call right away. He has over twenty years’ experience as a personal injury attorney, with a practice conveniently located in downtown Bellingham. The number to call is (360) 392-2833, or take a few moments to fill out this contact form. Bill is ready to do whatever it takes to get you the compensation needed to recover. 

For information on how to properly balance a trailer, read this article.

Washington’s Department of Transportation page on licensing RVs and trailers.

Training on how to safely drive an RV

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