Friday, April 28, 2017

RV Women and State Laws

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The more toys you have with you, the more fun you'll have in your RV travels. 

State Laws and the RV Traveler

    Cross a state line in your RV, girlfriend, and suddenly  you may be breaking the law.    

     Whether you’re driving a motorhome with towed car or a car/truck towing a camper, it pays to pay strict attention to state laws and speed limits, which are often lower for vehicles with a tow. Most of the differences among states apply to towing but others apply to all vehicles such as right turn on red or whether it’s legal to have a firearm on board

    Also, seat belt laws for campers vary by state even though RV manufacturers are required to provide restraints only for front seat passengers. It’s just plain dangerous, and illegal in some places, not to have seat belt for back-seaters. (I’m personally also in favor of restraints for pets after my friend’s beloved parrot was killed in a collision and another friend was injured by a flying poodle in a panic stop.) 

    The speed limit if you’re towing a travel trailer may be much less than the speed limits for cars and it may be 10 mph or so less than  those in the state you came from. Allowable width of your trailer? It may be six inches less in one state than another.

    For example, when you cross over from Alabama to Mississippi, you could suddenly be exceeding the maximum towing speed, which is 10 mph  less. Or, your trailer could be too wide. Maximum width is 8 feet in some states, 8 1/2 feet in others. The requirement for trailer brakes is 1000 pounds less in one state than another.

    In addition, states differ on their rules about multiple trailers. If you're hauling a camper with a boat behind it, you'd be OK in one state, not in another. Overall length limits are set by states. Sometimes it applies to the trailer itself, sometimes to the trailer plus vehicle.

    Start with your own state, then keep asking questions as you travel.  Everywhere in the U.S., the trailer you're towing should have tail lights and a license plate light.
Definitions, sizes or requirements vary state to state but you'll also need: 

     Safety chains: These chains, which cross over in the shape of an X to connect the trailer to the tow vehicle, help prevent separation if the hitch connection fails.
    Brake lights: People behind you may not be able to see the stop lights in your car or truck. The towed trailer needs its own lights to indicate braking. Don't get rear-ended.
    Clearance lights: These are always a plus but may not be required. It depends on the state and the size of the trailer.
    Turn signals: For the same reason you need brake lights on the trailer, it’s a safety plus to have separate turn signal lights on the trailer.
    Reflectors: They are inexpensive, easy to install, use no energy and are a big plus in keeping your rig  visible.
    States may also require:
    Breakaway brakes: If your hitch fails, power brakes kick in.
Also good to have:
    Flares: If you need to stop a big rig you may not be able to clear the road completely. Give ample alert to oncoming traffic.
       Tie-downs: Get the best tie-down system suitable for the load, from lawn chairs on the rear end to a kayak on the roof. Learn to use it correctly. Bonus points if it locks, protecting your bicycle or canoe from theft. 

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