How windy is too windy for RV driving in crosswinds? None of us ever want to find out the answer. But sometimes we get caught on the highway in bad winds. When that risky driving situation happens, here’s what you need to know to stay safe.
It’s time to prepare for windy driving days
Spring RVing is one of the best times to be an RV nomad. Daily temperatures aren’t too hot or cold. Campgrounds aren’t very busy yet. But spring is also a time of weather transition. When winter and summer weather patterns collide, the resulting wind patterns can make us wish we never left home.
If you’re afraid of RV driving in crosswinds this time of year, you should be. Wind can flip the biggest RVs and semi-trucks on the highway. It’s nothing to mess with. That’s why you need to read these tips to stay safe while driving high profile vehicles in wind. Whether you own a motorhome, trailer, truck camper, or Class B van, highway driving in high winds can put your life at risk if you don’t know how to handle the situation.
Bad highway crosswinds and driving in windy conditions also kills RV fuel economy. With record-high gas and diesel prices, knowing how to handle windy day RV driving can save us money, too.
What are crosswinds?
A crosswind happens when winds move perpendicular to your path of travel. The sideways wind gust catches many drivers off-guard. Wind speeds at or above 60 mph can roll vehicles, even fully-loaded semi-trucks.
High profile vehicles with lots of surface areas are at the highest risk of crosswinds rollovers on the highway. At best, a sudden burst of crosswinds can push your RV side to side inside your lane before you can course-correct. At worst, crosswinds RV driving during extremely windy situations like those found in the Southwest or the Rocky Mountain foothills, can bump you into oncoming traffic and kill you.
Cross winds registered between 55 & 65MPH [at night]. Slowed to 45mph. Semi’s were on their side. I finally was able to stop at the Towanda Service area. WHITE KNUCKLES! My rig at that time was a 24ft class C It was all I could do to keep it in my lane. The overpasses were the worst. I was tired for two days after.@j_carter, iRV2 Forums Member
How to stay safe RV driving in crosswinds
It’s best to avoid RV driving in high wind. But sometimes you can’t avoid it. When that happens, follow the lead of commercial truck drivers. These trained professionals know exactly what to do when they get caught driving in highway crosswinds. Here’s how to follow their example.
Step 1. Know the weather where you’re going
We now have awesome RV trip planning tools and minute-by-minute weather reports on our phones to warn us about weather conditions. If we all checked the weather forecast as often as we scroll social media, we could avoid RV driving in crosswinds more often. Don’t go anywhere until you know the weather report to and from your destination.
Step 2. Watch road conditions
Do you see roadside grass and trees blowing around? Any flags flying horizontal? Dust or trash blowing around the road? If you’re alone on the highway and you spot these types of movement, chances are extremely high that crosswinds are present. Or, if you’re driving across an overpass or high bridge (especially over water), expect crosswinds.
Step 3. Slow down
Don’t think for a minute you can outrun the wind. If crosswinds are happening, slow down and drive with as much care as you would with snow, ice, and rain. Even sunny, clear skies can generate lethal crosswinds.
Step 4. Wait it out
Even commercial truckers advise waiting out severe weather. This includes windy conditions on the highway. You have the comfort of a home on wheels. Use it to your advantage and pull over at a safe place until winds die down.
Bonus Tip for RV Driving in Crosswinds
RV steering stabilizers keep motorhomes, fifth wheels, and semi-trucks moving in a straight line. Invented decades ago, this type of spring-loaded sideways shock-absorber gets installed on the vehicle’s front steering arms and clamps onto the front axle. A preset tension on either side of the stabilizer is applied to each front wheel. The tension works against any outside forces, like wind, potholes, or sudden tire pressure loss. The stabilizer keeps front wheels pointed straight, and the driver doesn’t have to do anything else but keep eyes on the road. Many steering stabilizer installation jobs are an easy DIY weekend RV project.