Friday, 21 January 2011

MOTORHOME Mishaps on the road

Many things can cause accidents to motorhomes .....

Protrusions

With a “C” class motorhome you have a few blind spots. Manoeuvring on a campground we managed to get tangled up in a basketball net that was fastened onto a tree. Another friend reversed into a tree and had a branch come right through the back wall of his motorhome so now has extra ventilation, the same fellow also managed to drive with his roof vents up and wreck them and broke his wing mirror when he hit a road sign! WHEN BACKING UP IT IS WORTH HAVING SOMEONE STOOD AT THE BACK TO CHECK FOR OBSTACLES

Driving along there are often things sticking out into the road, too high to be a problem for cars but a definite hazard to motorhomes. Don’t be misled by trucks ahead of you as many of them don’t care about their vehicles. Flag poles on lamp posts are a classic example and when pulling to the side of the road to park we managed to get our awning caught on one. Worse still Steve was convinced we had just bumped the kerb so began to reverse and caused the whole thing to rip off.

Other hazzards are at ground level such as sticking up tree stumps, a friend was unlucky enough to wrap his motorhome steps around one and totally wrecked them



Whilst some streets may be wide enough for the motorhome to pass the balconies often hang into the street space. Whilst trying to do a 3 point turn in a fairly wide street we managed to modify a balcony.

A friend drove down a narrow street in France and thought he was in luck as women began chasing after him shouting. In fact they were very angry as his air conditioner had caught their washing lines and they wanted their laundry back.

Driving through towns be aware of low hanging telegraph and other wires and if you come to a bridge with a height sign don’t be afraid to have your passenger get out and walk ahead to check the clearance. In Europe it is not uncommon for the sign to relate to just the centre of the tunnel and if the road has been re surfaced many times the clearance can be reduced considerably. If anyone is trying to guide you do make sure they are aware of things like the air conditioner on the roof as many people just look at the roof height. IF IN DOUBT GET OUT AND CHECK



Approach car parks slowly in case there is a height barrier. A car in France was heading into a car park and whilst the car itself had enough clearance the bikes on top did not. Having found a car park with no height barrier we drove in but pulled up quickly when we saw sparks flying. We had caught a sagging overhead electric cable, hadn’t felt any sort of electric shock but thought we had better get out of there in case we had broken the power supply to the whole town. Later that day we met another motorhomer and were recounting the story and he laughed and told us he was the one who originally caught the cable and left it sagging!

Overhang

Motorhomes often have quite a long overhang which can cause problems on turns; you can easily take a whole bus queue out when cornering. Dips are also a problem and boarding ferries are one of our pet hates as the loaders don’t understand our situation. Trying to put as much weight as possible to the front of the vehicle and putting extra air in any air bags can help. Driving at an angle very slowly can also relieve the drag. We got completely stuck once but by using the ramps and replacing them in front of each other we managed to get enough lift to move off.

Hairpin bends

Driving down a steep hill with hairpin bends we came close to losing our motorhome. Our 5 ton American vehicle Charlie had an automatic gearbox. The hairpin bend was too tight and we had come to a stop near the drop off and needed to back up. The automatic gearbox would not hold us firm until we got moving in reverse. In the end it was a two man effort using the brake, hand brake and gearbox and revving up to get us backing up without sliding over the edge. ALWAYS COME TO A STOP A FEW FEET BACK FROM ANY DROPS OR OBSTACLES

Stopping distance

Our first motorhome was 3.5 tons but I reckon we had probably overloaded it. Following a truck we did not realise he was breaking as his lights were not working. The first thing we knew was that we were awfully close to a stopped vehicle. This was the point where Steve hit the brakes. Although our motorhome did not seem to be stopping we were beginning to wear our crockery and food out of the cupboards. We swerved round to avoid collision but quickly learnt that stopping a motorhome takes much longer than a car. LEAVE PLENTY OF SPACE BETWEEN THE VEHICLE IN FRONT AND DON’T OVERLOAD YOUR MOTORHOME

TIP

Ladies assure your husband that a bit of dented pride is cheaper than a dented motorhome and pursuade him to let you get out and guide him.

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