After two major accidents this week with RV’s tipping on Idaho Highways blocking traffic for hours, KPVI News 6 reporter Dani Beckstrom dug a little deeper into the safety of the new 80 mile per hour law, especially when driving large vehicles.
Summer road trip season is entering its final weeks, which means more motorists hitting the roads. But more traffic means less room for mistakes, and things have gotten a little messy and really dangerous for drivers on the highway.
“Travel trailers, fifth wheels, toy haulers, motorhomes, they’re all just a big sail on the road,” said John Myers, General Manager of Bish’s RV in Pocatello.
Summertime is the perfect time to hit the road and travel, especially if you have the rigs for it. But combine busy roads packed with trailers and the raised speed limits and things can get dangerous.
“The higher the speed, the more dangerous it is of course,” said Sergeant Clint Skinner of Idaho State Police, “but if you’re pulling a trailer at 80 mph and the back end of that trailer starts to move or swerve around, it makes it extremely difficult for a motorist to recover that without ending up in a crash.”
East Idaho has seen two major RV crashes in just as many days. Idaho State Police expected to see an increase in accidents with the increase of speed limit, but every mile an hour adds even more danger when you’re pulling a few tons behind you.
“There’s a lot of momentum in the trailer behind you, if that thing gets away from you it can definitely take you off the road with it,” said Myers.
Not to make a bad day worse, but if you’ve found yourself in an accident while driving your RV, it’s the Idaho State Police’s job to also cite any motorist who broke a rule of the road, which tends to happen when a trailer is fishtailing behind you.
“If somebody fails to maintain their lane of travel and they crash, or if they’re pulling a trailer that is heavier than the vehicle is rated to pull and they crash, we will issue citations for that also,” said Sergeant Skinner.
The bottom line is, regardless of what the speed limit says, drivers of RV’s, campers, trailers, boats, or any other big rigs should never drive faster than they can control.
“You can drive an RV 80mph, whether you should is another question,” added Myers.
Other tips that can help with RV safety are to maintain more than a safe distance between you and the vehicles in front of you and invest in a stabilizer hitch or sway bar to help your car or truck keep a little more control over the trailer.