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Old 06-11-2009, 11:40 AM   #15
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Oh no, it wasn't the main reason. Just a nice benefit. I know, statistically any motorhome should be safer than a car. Statistics don't matter if you happen to be one of them tho.
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Old 06-11-2009, 12:48 PM   #16
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Yep, there is risk in everything, and there are always steps you can take to mitigate the inherent risks. Of course, the bus nuts will tell you that is why all of us should buy only bus conversions, etc. But it is also true that all fiberglass motorhomes are not created equal. Some are far safer in a head-on or roll-over than others. (I have some pictures of a highway head-on between a Tiffin Phaeton vs a large SUV -- the Tiffin was totaled, but did an impressive job of holding together). It does pay to do thorough research before buying, so that when you do, you are very much aware of just how much relative risk you are taking with the coach you choose vs other coaches. We could decide not to drive our coach on the highway, but it can be destroyed while parked by storms falling trees etc.

Ultimately, each of us does as much or as little research as we are comfortable with, then "we pays our money and we takes our chances."
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Old 06-11-2009, 02:38 PM   #17
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Ultimately, each of us does as much or as little research as we are comfortable with, then "we pays our money and we takes our chances."
Regarding the structural integrity of the front cap in a head on, I agree that some are definitely better than others. I don't believe, however, that any are "good", meaning that they are going to protect the front occupants in massive frontal contact.

I was on a different point. IMHO, the way to handle the risk is to try to avoid it. That is done through a combination of vehicle maintenance and defensive driving. It is not a perfect system and not all frontal crashes can be avoided. Setting out to do all that we can to avoid them is the best that any of us can do. Again, some are better at it than others.
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Old 06-13-2009, 08:26 PM   #18
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A couple of events this past week triggered my thinking about this subject. The PGA player whose brother and girlfriend were killed in a MH accident after a front tire blowout and a TT demolished by an 18 wheeler in Alabama drive home a sobering point, at least to me: RVing can be dangerous. The real question is what do you do about it.

As I poked around our own MH, I quickly recognized that the front cap has almost no structural intregrity in a frontal crash. If we hit anything with any force, the driver and passenger, whether belted in or not, are probably toast. I have next to zero confidence that any kind of even a parital rollover would maintain the structural integrity of the body, putting everyone inside at risk, regardless of seatbelts or position. The stuff (cabinets, chairs, etc) is just not fastened to anything substancial enough to withstand any real amount of force.

With thoughts like that, you might expect me immediately get rid of our MH. The fact is that many things that we do carry as much or even greater risks than riding in a MH. Perhaps I've succumbed to too much business analysis but to me, it comes down to risk mitigation. I cannot eliminate risks but I can understand them and try to minimize the likelyhood or impact.
1. For tires (and potential blowouts), I'm paranoid about keeping correct air pressures even in storage and replacing the tires every 5 years. I weighed all 4 corners, set the pressures accordingly and periodically check the axle weights, just to make sure that loading of the RV hasn't dramatically changed anything.
2. For collisions, I work hard to keep a buffer of space around me while driving, front and back. I watch far ahead and try to anticipate pending problems. I actively move away from drivers exhibiting agressive or reckless actions and pull my flashers on when I see congestion ahead, particularly on the interstates. I'm watchful in cases where vehicles are approaching rapidly from the rear.

I've enjoyed downhill skiing for years and have never worn a helmut. I consider that activity to be far more risky than driving in our MH. There, too, risk mitigation would tell me to ski in control, and do things like not take the last run (because it is usually on that one, where you are tired and where you lack the physical control to stay safe.) It seems to me that many somewhat risky activities (rock climbing, quad riding, etc) can have the associated risks mitigaged - through prudence and common sense. There are always inherient risks that you must be accepted, however.

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I really appreciate this post!
Hi! I'm ron... I pull a little travel trailer but the title of this post got me. The "illusion" of safety part.
I'm a mechanical engineer (retired) and this whole concept of RV safety has had my interest for a while now.
Of coarse the best safety one can obtain is speed. Giving it back so to speak. Slowing down. There is twice as much kinetic energy in your rig at 70mph than there is at 50mph. Kinetic energy is what you have to give up in a crash or a roll.
But it seems, for some people it doesn't matter.. they drive as fast as possible never thinking about the bomb of K they building with such speed.. and this is what got me in your post.

It seems we all want to drive smoother. Isolate ourselves from the road noise and the lean and waggle and the twitch of the steering wheel. Like a big old 1962 Cadillac shooting down the road with no sense or tactile feedback whatsoever... isolated from the road and the language she speaks. We put all kinds of things on our rig to silence the road's talk and when we do the road stops speaking to us. Sometimes too much comfort can be dangerous.
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Old 06-13-2009, 10:59 PM   #19
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re "But it seems, for some people it doesn't matter.. they drive as fast as possible never thinking" - this is the type of thinking that causes more grief than help, IMHO. One should note (see the AZ DOT page on speed limits or the MUTCD) that the basic assumption for traffic controls is that drivers generally express safe driving practice, including driving at a safe speed. It is those who cannot stand others' judgment and foist their opinions on others that ends up creating disturbances in traffic flow, frustrated drivers, contempt for ridiculous traffic control attempts and other problems.

For perspective on the risk issue, I was looking through the 2006 Nevada Crash Book (on the NV DOT website) and it reported that there were more than 100,000 vehicle incidents that year. Some 160 odd involved motor homes with a few fatalities, 2 involved travel trailers with injuries only, and 2 involved tent trailers. That puts the risk for RV's down in the noise.

As for speed, excessive speed for conditions - not necessarily exceeding the speed limit - was quite a ways down this list of crash contributors. By far and away the most significant factor in crashes was driver inattention and distraction. I am tempted to ask the DOT for the data on RV crashes for the last ten years to see if I can determine any differences in RV causation and severity than in the population at large. With the FUD mongering about hitch rigging, weight ratings, and such as seen in this thread, it would be interesting to see how often these are involved as contributing factors.
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Old 06-14-2009, 07:55 AM   #20
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"Alcohol was a factor in less than 1% of the fatal accidents: IN cars it is considered to be THE causative factor in half of them and may be a factor (Contributing if not causative) in as many as 90%.. Sounds like we are a sober group. This is a very good thing.

Alcohol was a factor in less than 1% of the fatal accidents: IN cars it is considered to be THE causative factor in half of them and may be a factor (Contributing if not causative) in as many as 90%.. Sounds like we are a sober group. This is a very good thing."

Be aware that an accident is listed as a DUI issue even when the person drinking was NOT AT FAULT. Of course, he will be arrested for DUI anyway.

Also, if the victim has the odor of alcohol beverage (alcohol has no odor) on his/her breath, is is considered a drinking violation, even when alcohol level is below legal limit.

note, this applies to Ariz. specifically and perhaps other states as well.
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Old 06-14-2009, 08:22 AM   #21
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re "But it seems, for some people it doesn't matter.. they drive as fast as possible never thinking" - this is the type of thinking that causes more grief than help, IMHO.

Hi Bryan. I fear I don't understand this at all. Maybe I need another cup of coffee. It wouldn't be that you are suggesting that my statement causes "grief"? Sorry if I didn't get it.

As for speed, excessive speed for conditions - not necessarily exceeding the speed limit - was quite a ways down this list of crash contributors. By far and away the most significant factor in crashes was driver inattention and distraction. .

I hear that. Causality is perhaps more easily defined than magnitude. Magnitude is what I am referring to. While you are researching see if you can find data that shows how the speed effected the damage, not the cause. Here's two questions to to ask:

1) would a slower speed have prevented the accident? Not a "safe" speed. Not "under the speed limit". Just slower. The investigations I am sure never take that exact math into consideration because it is impossible to quantify. You cannot construct history from a road not taken... but it would be worth your effort to show that this question cannot be answered.
2) how much did speed contribute to the damage? Note.. not the cause of the damage. The magnitude of the damage. If the rig rolled twice bleeding of the kinetic energy would it have roll only once if it was traveling slower?


Again I believe many pilots have no sense of the mass times the acceleration that they are moving down the road. If they did they may slow down a bit.
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