You’ve got the keys to your new home on wheels, and you can’t wait to hit the road. Alexia Santamaria of Motorhomes, Caravans & Destinations magazine talks to us about the safety essentials every new motorhome owner should know before setting out.
So you’ve got the keys to your new home on wheels, and your imagination is running wild thinking of the destinations you’re going to explore with this new-found freedom. The idea of hitting the road feels thrilling — and it will be — but it also pays to understand some of the possible risks to make it fun for everyone.
Wilderness Motorhomes has been in the business for nearly two decades, and have seen it all, so we asked them for the most important information every motorhome owner should know to keep passengers and the vehicle safe. Knowledge is power, so understanding the risks is more than half the battle when it comes to avoiding them.
When driving a slightly bigger vehicle, it’s important to be aware there are different risks than a car.
- It takes a little longer to brake and turn so taking turns wider, leaving a reasonable gap between you and the vehicle in front, and letting faster traffic pass you are always good ideas. Driving on quieter, local streets before embarking on your first trip is ideal preparation.
- You’re a bit higher up than normal so be aware of what’s above your motorhome especially under bridges, on roads with overgrown branches, and when parking under trees.
- Your rearview vision is more obscured than in a car, so use whatever help you have like large mirrors and reversing cameras. Take your time, ask one of your group to step outside and help guide you, and always put the manual handbrake on when you park!
- Tiredness is an accident risk when driving any vehicle, but even more so when it’s something this size. Stay refreshed, take breaks. That coffee followed by a twenty-minute nap in a rest area could save lives.
- Picking up too much speed when driving a motorhome downhill is dangerous so keep it in a low gear if you’re driving a manual, or use the steep hill assist function if you’re in a modern automatic.
Of course, the hope is that nothing terrible will eventuate, but it’s always wise to understand what might happen if you have an accident or are a victim of theft. It’s important to read all documentation and fully understand what you’re insured for. Specialist motorhome insurers will understand the risks better, so could offer lower premiums and more extensive cover.
Check out our ultimate guide to motorhome owners' insurance in New Zealand.
Personal Injury Risks
Be aware of risks to keep yourself and your passengers safe when travelling.
- Movement of objects inside the vehicle. Stowing your items safely in a motorhome is very important. You’ll likely have more gear than fits in your car and there’s plenty of room for your things to move around while driving. Before you depart anywhere, secure loose luggage in the living and storage areas, lock cupboards and drawers and close the fridge. Secure the table extension and any drop down beds Beds that sit over the lounge or cab area. They can be lowered by either manual by a winch/handle or electric.. Lock the garage doors as they can swing open when you start driving.
- Power and gas. Be aware of safety when unplugging from the power source pre-departure, always lower the satellite dish and make sure the gas bottle is in the closed position before you drive off. Read this article for more LPG gas safety tips.
- Reversing can be a risk, especially in campgrounds with kids around. Take it easy and slow with safety checks, using mirrors and reversing cameras.
- NZ is safer than many countries, but it always pays to be aware. Park in well-lit areas and be aware of crime hotspots.
When you’re carrying more of your worldly possessions around with you than you would in your car, it pays to keep them safe. Lock doors and close windows when away from your motorhome or when sleeping. Secure external storage areas and keep valuables hidden away.
You always need to be careful when you’re driving in challenging weather conditions, but this advice is even more pertinent when you’re in a motorhome.
- Take seasons into consideration — check conditions before you leave, and be prepared to change your plans if the weather looks dangerous.
- Carry snow chains when winter driving in the South Island — you may not need to use them, but you’ll only be permitted to drive on some roads if you put them on.
Now that you have an increasing awareness of safety and the risks involved with motorhoming, reduce them further by being well prepared. Find out how to spring clean your motorhome and how to get your motorhome ready for a summer road trip.
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