If you’re packing your bags and heading into an RV for your next winter vacation, you get a lot of benefits, like cutting down on hotel costs and being able to park at the base of your favorite mountain. But, driving in winter weather can be challenging and even dangerous for RVers.
Even people who live in snowy environments might find unexpected weather conditions while on the road. Things like snow tires or chains and the proper emergency equipment can keep you comfortable and safe no matter what comes your way. If it’s your first or even your tenth time driving in the snow, here are some ultimate safety guides to make things easier.
Pay Attention to Your Speed
Slower speeds can accommodate low traction on snow or ice and other slippery conditions.
Generally, you want to drive between 10 mph and 20 mph slower than the speed limit.
Not only do you have to pay attention to your speed the entire time you are driving, but you have to pay particular attention to accelerating and decelerating. Driving ten mph slower than you normally would won’t benefit you as much if you aren’t careful to hit the brakes sooner than you need and hit the gas slower than you usually would. You need to give yourself extra time to come to a complete stop, and if you speed up too quickly, you’ll start to skid.
Keep your distance
Keeping your distance is essential. Under normal circumstances, all state driving tests recommend keeping a full car length in front of you, but it takes longer to slow down in the snow, so you should give yourself extra space between any other cars.
If the car in front of you stops quickly because they aren’t paying attention or the conditions are too icy, and you end up breaking too fast, you could skid or go off the road.
Try to leave 1-2 times the length of your RV between yourself and the cars ahead of you.
Polarized Sunglasses and Proper Mirrors
You need proper mirror adjustment with an RV to see far behind you and on either side. Driving with polarized sunglasses can reduce glare from the snow and make it easier to see what’s going on in your mirrors.
Without polarized sunglasses, snow blindness couldn’t prevent you from seeing a dangerous patch of ice or another hazard on the road.
Use chains for grip. Even if you have snow tires, it’s good to have snow chains tucked away for extra traction. You can pull off at gas stations or truck stops to put your chains on, and you might even luck out and find a facility that does it for a small fee.
Winterize RV pipes
Always winterize your pipes; otherwise, water in the tanks or pipes could crack the pipes or the connection points.
Check the Tires and Batteries
Always check the tires and batteries before you go. Most RV tires are not designed for winter weather, so you should invest in snow tires or, at the very least, a reputable set of chains. In certain stormy conditions, roads might be closed to Vehicles without snow tires or chains.
Remember the batteries. Car batteries don’t perform well in cold weather. So check that your battery levels are good. If you have any auxiliary batteries, check those two. If you have older batteries, replace them before a long winter haul.
Don’t Drive Distracted
Distracted driving can happen to anyone. As people get comfortable with a particular route or the handling of a vehicle, they are more likely to glance at their phone to see who sent a text message, fiddle with the defroster, or look at their passenger while sharing a story.
These seem innocuous enough, and in some cases, things like turning on the defroster might be essential, but it’s something you should have set up before you drive. Even a cursory glance at a phone or a passenger can steal precious seconds away from current road conditions. Winter weather brings unpredictable and fast changes, so you need complete focus to notice snowfall, rain, or slushy conditions on the ground.
Carry an RV Roadside Emergency Kit
This applies to any vehicle but especially an RV. You never know when unpredictable weather conditions might arise. In your roadside emergency kit, you should have essentials like:
- A first-aid kit
- Emergency chargers
- Portable electric heaters
- Emergency blankets
- Road flares
- Emergency candles
- Dried food
Remember to include orange warning cones. These will come in handy if you have to pull over on the side of the road and whip out your snow chains.
There might even be temporary conditions too severe to get through. Your family might have to pull over and get comfortable for a while. Thankfully, owning an RV means you can stick it out, but it’s good to have a roadside emergency kit just in case.
Overall, with the right gear and preparation, winter driving can be safe. For many newcomers, the biggest hindrance is unfamiliarity with the basics, like keeping extra space in front of your RV, slowing down sooner than you would, and speeding up slowly. The more you know and are prepared with polarized sunglasses and emergency roadside kits, the more you can take the fear out of the equation.
Isabelle is an associate editor at EyeBuyDirect, an online retailer of affordable and high-quality eyewear. She is a lifelong learner who is always eager to try new things. Isabelle combines her skills and experience to transform lifestyle, fashion, and travel ideals into practical reality and relevant information.