A road trip is a classic American vacation. The open road, the national wonders, and the adventure await. Today, rather than squeezing into their everyday vehicles, more and more individuals and families are taking to the road in recreational vehicles, or RVs. In 2016, RV shipments to sellers increased more than 15 percent over the previous year, with more than 430,000 units awaiting buyers and renters.
The affordability and increasing amenities these vehicles offer—they are cheaper than flights and hotel rooms, and they provide everything from a real bed to cable television—draw travelers across the country. An RV is a common sight on the road, but many drivers know little about them.
What Is a Recreational Vehicle?
A recreational vehicle is a motorized or towable vehicle that combines transportation and living areas for travel, recreation, and camping, according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). These types of vehicles include:
- Motorhomes. Built on a special automotive frame, these large vehicles house both the vehicle and living areas in one unit. With the integrated driver’s area, they can range from 20 feet to 45 feet long, depending on the class.
- Travel trailers. Travel trailers are similar to motorhomes but cannot be driven on their own. Pulled behind another vehicle, these large trailers can detach from the vehicle at the destination. They range in size from 12 feet to 35 feet.
- Folding camping trailers. Also known as pop-ups, these trailers are pulled behind a main vehicle and are expanded at the campsite or other destination. They are light and affordable, and they range from 8 feet to 24 feet long.
- Sports utility recreational vehicles (SURV). These vehicles come in both motorized and towable forms, and they are designed to carry motorcycles, dirt bikes, ATVs, and more. They offer travelers a living area separated by a wall from a “garage” area. The rear of the SURV drops down to form a ramp for access to the garage.
These vehicles are large, but they are not considered commercial vehicles, and drivers are not required to hold a commercial driver’s license to operate them.
Dangers of Recreational Vehicles on the Road in Florida
While these vehicles can meet a variety of needs and provide comforts on the road, they are also accompanied by some unique risks. It takes skill and patience to operate these vehicles safely, as well as attention to detail. This can be challenging for the infrequent operator, who may have to deal with:
- Driver inexperience. Many RVs are rented by people taking a one-time or casual trip. Drivers may not have very much experience behind the wheel of these large vehicles. This can lead to misjudgment of braking distance and turn room.
- Limited visibility. These long, large vehicles leave drivers with significant blind spots. It can be difficult to see other cars or debris on the road, leading to accidents.
- Towing issues. Many times, travelers tow a smaller car or additional cargo behind the RV. It can be difficult to maneuver, and towing increases the risk for jackknife and rollover accidents. Additionally, while the state limits the length of vehicles and mandates that only one additional vehicle be towed, not all drivers adhere to these laws.
- Defect susceptibility. Given the nature of these vehicles, they are typically parked for long periods of time—either during a trip or while in storage. This can leave them vulnerable to mechanical and parts issues, especially those related to the tires. These issues can crop up unnoticed by the driver and become an issue while on the road.
- Cargo instability. While significant storage is a selling point of RVs, it can also create risks on the road. Cargo that is not secured properly or unevenly loaded can move around during travel and create sudden imbalances that may be difficult for the driver to manage.
Common RV Accidents in Florida
These risks do turn into real dangers for those who share the road with recreational vehicles. Common accidents involving RVs include:
- Sideswipe accidents while changing lanes.
- Rear-end collisions when drivers fail to keep a proper braking distance.
- Falling cargo accidents from improperly secured cargo.
- Biker or pedestrian crashes during turns.
- Crashes caused by driver fatigue from long hours on the road.
- Rollover accidents due to speeding, high winds, or overloaded vehicles.
- Runaway trailer crashes from improperly towed vehicles.
What to Do If You’ve Suffered Injuries in an RV Accident
Recreational vehicles are long, heavy vehicles that can inflict serious injury and significant property damage. Accident victims can find themselves facing painful injuries such as broken bones, amputation, head and neck injuries, lacerations, and much more. These injuries can require substantial medical attention and even hospital stays. In addition to the physical and emotional pain, victims may be forced to miss work and lose valuable income.
In Florida, victims are able to pursue legal action to hold the responsible driver accountable. It is possible to recover compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Future medical bills
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in an RV accident, our experienced attorneys may be able to help. Our injury lawyers can take the burden of investigating your accident and most effectively pursue the compensation you deserve so you can focus on what really matters—the most complete recovery possible. Call our office today to learn more about what we do and schedule a free case evaluation.