Most owners of motor homes and large trailers have probably experienced the challenge of driving in high gusty winds. Add some passing semi’s and it can soon turn into what could only be described as a “White Knuckle” drive.
So, how much wind is too much? There is no correct answer for this question as there are many rig designs and specific configurations. Factors such as vehicle weight, departure angle (distance from the rear axle center to the rear bumper), weight distribution, body height, presence of any steering aids, correct alignment specifications and even tire pressures can all effect vehicle handling in high winds. Driver skill and experience also come into play when assessing a safe speed, or if it is even wise to travel in any given conditions.
Generally, if you start to feel uncomfortable while operating in strong winds, slowdown to the minimum legal speed, providing you will not impede other traffic. The most common reaction during heavy gusts is the tendency to over steer. This may actually increase the instability of your vehicle causing a possible dangerous situation. Time and experience will help form the skills that can reduce this.
If, however, you still feel uncomfortable with the wind affect at the lower speed, consider stopping at the next suitable place and sit it out. Your RV is for relaxing enjoyment, not stress. Being an RV owner that is late to the next destination is far better than being the “Late RV Owner.”
So let’s talk numbers, actual wind speeds. Your RV can be effected by as little as a 10 mile an hour breeze. At wind speeds of 15 to 20 MPH the effect increases dramatically. Winds near 30 MPH and higher may not be safe for some RV’s to travel at highway speeds, and this is especially true if the conditions include imbedded gusts.
Fortunately, sustained high gusty winds are not all that common, but more associated with short term weather patterns, such as fronts moving through, and squalls. Therefore, these are better waited out in the comfort of your RV in camp or at a rest stop.
Another smart way to deal with an otherwise “White Knuckle” day, is to re-route your trip via a slower secondary highway or service road. Driving at speeds of 30 to 40 MPH are not subjected to the same wind effect as found on the higher speed freeways and like highways. While it may take a little longer, you will probably enjoy the trip much more and even have time and focus to enjoy the sights and scenery.
So, check the weather and drive safe.