The Campervan & Motorhome Club of Australia is working with state and federal governments and industry partners to launch an education and awareness program aimed at drivers of every kind of recreational vehicle safer on our roads.
As at November 2019, there were approximately 700,000 registered recreational vehicles (RVs) in Australia. RVs have the second highest growth rate for a registered vehicle type in Australia which, with increasing demand from consumers, is a trend that is expected to continue.
Recreational vehicles vary greatly and each of the vehicle types can come with their own challenges and safety risks. Recreational vehicles include motorhomes, campervans, converted buses/coaches, slide-ons, caravans, fifth-wheelers and camper trailers.
The RV Safety Awareness Project aims to target areas of risk that are specific to RV travellers and educate these road users to try and reduce incidents and encourage consistent and compliant behaviour on our roads.
The project will develop educational and instructive material which will be available to all RV users across Australia. This material aims to support improved behaviours on our roads, minimise issues relating to overloaded or non-compliant vehicles and provide resource materials available to everyone.
The project will focus on nine core areas that including towing, vehicle weights and weight distribution, speed, overtaking safely, UHF radio communication, rest, roadside services, consumer behaviour and licensing.
Unfortunately, we are seeing more and more media coverage of accidents involving vehicles being towed. A common headline is a ‘caravan rollover’. Many of these accidents are avoidable and we aim to educate drivers to reduce this occurrence.
This will involve educating drivers on the appropriate tow vehicle for their RV, as well as understanding how different driving a vehicle and towing is from driving a standard passenger vehicle only. You can tow with a standard driver’s licence; however, there are currently no education or licensing requirements around being able to do so.
The RV Safety Awareness project aims to educate the public about the unique conditions that occur when towing to ensure safe people on our roads.
Tow capacity, tow ball mass (TBM), kerb weight, gross vehicle mass (GVM), gross combined mass (GCM) and payload are all terms that every recreational vehicle owner should understand. Unfortunately, very few do. There is confusion surrounding what manufacturers advertise as vehicle weight and towing capacity, especially once accessories and modifications are made to vehicles. Overloaded vehicles can have catastrophic consequences.
Correct weight distribution is integral, especially with caravans and camper trailers. If weight is poorly distributed, it greatly affects the trailers stability, especially at high speed.
Educating RV drivers about weight will help encourage safe vehicles on our roads.
Recreational vehicles are larger than a standard passenger car and need to be driven with this in mind. Additionally, road and weather conditions also need to be taken into consideration. RVs often cannot travel safely at the legal speed limit. We aim to educate drivers on how speed affects the vehicle handling and braking capacity.
Safe speeds need to be addressed with a combination of factors including the vehicle, environment and driver.
Overtaking while driving an RV is a bit trickier than a passenger car. Unfortunately, we see many accidents that have occurred when an RV has tried to overtake. Underestimating how long it can take to get a heavier and longer vehicle to get around another vehicle can end up with vehicles off the road or rolling over. This can be due to many factors including road conditions, speed and vehicle weight distribution.
RVs are often being overtaken as they do need to go slower on the roads in many occasions. Other road users need to be aware of how to overtake an RV safely. RV drivers also need to make allowances for faster vehicles to overtake and, for example, avoid travelling in convoys that are difficult to let others past.
Educating both RV and other drivers about overtaking safely encourages safe speeds and safe people.
UHF Radio Communication
UHF Radios are a great tool for communicating with other road users but are also massively underutilised. UHF Radios allow you to communicate with other road users about hazards, trucks that want to overtake safely or enable you to navigate an oversize load. Knowing what channel to use and when is important.
UHFs are also handy when you are out of mobile phone range and need help. Educating more RV users on the benefits of UHF radio and how to use them will leader to safer people on our roads.
Driving an RV is more strenuous and tiring than a typical passenger car, and therefore you need more rest. Driver fatigue has been well established as a critical contributor to accidents. RVs are often travelling long distances and drivers need to plan where to rest. There is rest area etiquette, and there needs to be understanding between RV drivers and trucks. RV drivers need to be aware of what areas allow for a rest versus areas that allow camping.
What should you do if your RV breaks down? It isn’t always easy to get a large rig safely off the road, even to change a tyre. Unfortunately, injuries and even fatalities can occur in these situations.
The RV Safety Awareness Project aims to educate people about what to do if your vehicle breaks down or you have an accident. RVs bring unique problems in these situations. We will also recommend what safety items people should have on board so they can be seen and remain safe.
Australians have strongly embraced the RV lifestyle and with over 700,000 RVs registered in Australia it is no surprise when you see RV after RV on our roads. Now is the time to look at creating a culture of safety, courtesy and respect. With these principles in mind, the industry can flourish. Safe people will ensure that everyone can enjoy their RV adventures.
Some RVs require more than a car licence to drive. RV drivers need to be aware of the licence requirements for their vehicle. Manufacturers and retailers also need to understand the impacts that loading an RV will have on the total vehicle weight as the driver may be unaware that they require a higher license once the vehicle is ready to travel. Understanding licensing requirements makes for safe people.
The Campervan & Motorhome Club of Australia Limited (CMCA), with over 70,000 members, is the largest RV club in Australia. CMCA works to promote, facilitate and preserve the RV lifestyle, not just to its members but to all consumers.
Established in 1986, the CMCA has built a strong reputation as an advocate for road-based tourism throughout Australia. Over the past 33 years the organisation has been able to develop several key initiatives to enhance tourism opportunities throughout Australia.
The initiatives include developing a tailor made member-only insurance scheme, establishing over 340 RV Friendly Towns and 158 RV Friendly Destinations, installing over 500 black water waste disposal points (known as dump points), publishing a 132 page monthly magazine and developing several other initiatives such as six low cost RV parks, an interactive travelling application and digital platform, numerous websites and over 300 low cost, no cost or discounted accommodation options through programs such as the Dollar Wise Park Network, Member Stop Over Facility and CMCA Friendly Caravan Parks.
CMCA has also developed a volunteer base of over 1,500 people Australia-wide and has established an online member forum and social media presence through Facebook and Instagram. To encourage fellowship and camaraderie, CMCA also has 106 ‘chapter’ groups Australia-wide who meet regularly, a National Rally held annually and numerous states rallies throughout the year.
To find out more about the RV Safety Awareness Project or for interviews contact Wylva Hall or Richard Barwick at email@example.com.