While winter RV vacations can be a peaceful, uncrowded time to experience the beauty of the country with its wintery white blanket, towing a trailer or maneuvering a motor home safely through unpredictable weather requires some preparation and patience to avoid turning a pleasure trip into a white-knuckle adventure.
Before You Go
Safety for a winter trip begins at home. Make sure you and your RV are prepared for winter travel – which means expecting the unexpected.
Winter road safety is not a splurge; before heading out on a journey where winter might mean snow and ice on the roads, make sure your RV is up to the rigors of winter travel. While there’s much you can do yourself, a certified service technician can make sure your vehicle is in tip-top condition. Let the winter experts at Crossroads Trailer Sales in Newfield, N.J. prepare your trailer or RV for safe winter travels.
If you’re headed for snow and ice, consider swapping out your tires for snow tires with greater grip. If you’re not investing in tires, inquire about the right snow chains for your vehicle.
Check battery, fluids, seals, and wipers. Have brakes and lights serviced. Make sure your emergency kit is up to date and all components are in useable, working order.
Planning and awareness are keys to a safe winter driving. Be prepared to make a quick exit and a safe stop if the weather turns treacherous. Research the number and location of service stations, grocery stories, campgrounds, and RV Parks that are open year-around along your planned route.
On the Road
Take some driving advice from truck drivers, road warriors who keep moving no matter the conditions. The folks who teach truckers how to drive, Roadmaster’s Driving School, start and finish their advice with the most basic of instruction: slow down. Bad things happen faster when weather conditions are poor. Your best defense is slowing down. Driving slower gives you more time to react and reduces the chance of hydroplaning.
Don’t be bullied or influenced by smaller vehicles, or those not towing, who are frustrated by your slow speed; stay steady and take advantage of passing areas by moving to the right to allow other vehicles to pass when the opportunity is available.
Allow additional space between your RV and the vehicle in front of you to allow more reaction time in hazardous conditions. Even if the road doesn’t seem slick, plan for extra stopping time. Avoid last minute decisions to turn or change lanes and use your turn indicators early to give the driver behind you plenty of time to react.
Do not use cruise control when conditions deteriorate. Stay in complete control. Keep a relaxed but firm, two-handed grip on the steering wheel.
Go light on the brakes; if you start to slide, or there’s a hazard ahead, break gently and steadily to keep your RV in control or prevent a jack-knifed trailer. Retain contact with the road on accelerations by increasing your speed slowly and steadily. If you need to stop suddenly, focus on a safe escape route and avoid jerking at the steering wheel.
When you’re driving in the mountains, be aware winter can bring swirling winds and gusts that will make towing a trailer or driving a lumbering RV even more dangerous. Avoid proximity to other vehicles when possible and drive slow and steady.
Be seen by other vehicles. Keep your lights on low while on the road.
Always have a Plan B. Twenty miles in treacherous weather may be too much; be flexible and willing to get off the road. The cost for an unplanned hotel stay pales in comparison to the cost and trauma of having your RV pulled out of a ditch or the expense and danger of a jack-knifed trailer.
Before tacking any winter trip in your RV or trailer, let the service experts at Crossroads Trailer Sales in Newfield, NJ, winterize your RV.