Start of camping season

RV being pulled by truck and other vehicles on road with cloudy skies on sunny day.
RV being pulled by truck and other vehicles on road with cloudy skies on sunny day.

As winter inevitably gives way to spring, we edge closer to tourist season. You have likely already seen a few recreational vehicles on your travels, and if you have been in the industry for any length of time, you know that the number of such vehicles will only increase, culminating to a seasonal high leading up to the May long weekend, known as the unofficial start of camping season. For us truckers, it will mean slower traffic, and a lot of personal vehicles pulling trailers. This largest potential problem is, most of the people pulling these trailers don’t have the experience we do, and quite often the trailers are not loaded correctly, with the majority of the weight either too far back or too far forward. Another potentially serious issue are the larger camping trailers, some measuring 40 feet or more in length. The 2 most serious dangers are, the driver’s inexperience with such a long trailer, leading to a potential accident when they are turning in traffic. The most serious issue, though, is that in many cases, the combined weight of the trailer and the towing vehicle exceeds the manufacturers GVWR. This is a very serious, and extremely dangerous condition. At least 95% of people are completely unaware that they have over loaded their vehicle, until they lose control, and have a serious wreck.

So what can we do to minimize the dangers to ourselves and others on the road?  First and foremost, act like the professionals we are. Yes, they are driving slowly, and yea, they seem to be confused about where they are going. This doesn’t mean we can pull out and overtake them as soon as possible.  Wait for a passing lane, or a long, flat straight stretch of highway, where you can see the oncoming lane is clear for about 3 kilometres.  Unless you’re preparing to pass, do not tailgate them. Chances are they’re nervous enough as it is, and if all they can see in their mirror is the grill of your truck, that won’t help calm them down.

If you see a camper that you suspect maybe over the GVWR, like a half ton pickup pulling a 45 ft triaxle 5th wheel trailer, I’d suggest you stay as far away from him as possible, even pulling over and waiting a while before continuing along.

Don Taylor has been a professional driver since March 1985.  In 1994 he made the jump to driving tractor trailers, and has accumulated over 3.5 million miles, including over 4 years of driving turnpike doubles in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.  He is currently hauling flat decks across North America.