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Can an RV Tip Over?

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Last Updated on October 9, 2022 by Jessica Lauren Vine

Are you asking, “Can an RV tip over?”

The short answer is yes. But it takes a particular situation for it to happen. 

As a high profile vehicle, RV’s are affected by the movement of the air around them. Class A’s are top-heavy and have large solid surfaces that can catch the wind.

RVs Catching the Wind Just Right Can Tip Over

The larger the surface area, the more likely the wind can tip you. So wind speeds are something you need to monitor and be prepared to handle.

Your RV’s height, whether or not it’s in motion, and the angle of the gusts are some of the major determining factors for whether or not it will stay put during super-high winds. 

It’s far more likely for an RV to tip over while driving than it is for it to be flipped while sitting still. Spend a super windy, stormy night in a travel trailer, and you may have your doubts, but it surprised me to find out just how unlikely they are to be blown over while not in motion.

On average, an RV can withstand winds of 50 – 75 mph while not moving and roughly 30 mph when traveling down the road.

While wind speeds as low as 10 miles per hour can affect an RV in motion, studies have shown that it would take a strong gust of at least 53 miles per hour to hit the side of an unhitched (18-foot) travel trailer perfectly straight-on for it to flip over.

If wind speeds aren’t that high and your stabilizers are in place, your rig should stay standing through a storm. Only in the rarest “perfect storm” of a situation is flipping over likely to happen when you’re parked. 

But, just because your rig stays standing, it doesn’t mean that there won’t be significant structural damage from an intense storm. Plus, your RV is in danger of hitting with flying or falling debris when winds are high. If a big enough branch breaks and blows right into your rig, you could have all kinds of damage.

Secure Your RV Awnings

Awnings are more likely to rip and tear when it’s windy, and they can cause you to be affected even more by the wind. Catch an awning at the right angle, turning it into a sail! So it’s wise to secure all your awnings when you see a storm on the radar or when you get a weather alert on your phone. 

There are multiple mobile apps that you can install on your cell phone, which will let you know when winds are high. Having an alert ahead of time is incredibly helpful and will allow you the time to get yourself secure. 

 (As opposed to scrambling to secure a manual awning as the wind is kicking up and debris is blowing by your head. Been there, done that!)

In the case of extremely high winds, some RVers will even bring in their slide-outs. 

The wind is something to take seriously. Even seasoned RVers will ponder pulling over and waiting for winds to subside when gusts reach 20 to 30 miles per hour. 

The Frightening Fishtail 

This phenomenon is terrifying, called fishtailing, jackknifing, or trailer sway. 

This petrifying phenomenon occurs when the trailer you’re towing begins to move independently from your vehicle, often ending up moving uncontrollably from side to side. One common factor for trailer sway is when any force, such as the wind, pushes on the trailer’s broadside.

If the wind speed escalates to the point where you’re having difficulty controlling your RV, pull over immediately!

Just because you can go that fast doesn’t mean you should. 

Properly Preparing For High Winds When in an RV

So you saw on the news that the area you’re in will be affected by high winds. While there may be nothing you can do for a full-strength hurricane or tornado, you can do a few things to make your RV extra stable.

Position

You can prepare for high winds by positioning yourself near a windbreak, such as a large building or a hill. You don’t want to sit in the open when the wind whips through.

Also, positioning your nose into the wind helps reduce the likelihood that you will flip, as it isn’t hitting your RV’s broadside. 

Hitch It 

Another way to help your tow-behind be more sturdy is to hitch it up to your tow vehicle. Being hitched will give your trailer more weight and stability.

Use Your Stabilizing Jacks 

Use your stabilizing jacks, wheel chocks, and/or an RV anchor. If you live in an area prone to high winds or hurricanes, you may want to use “hurricane straps” to anchor your RV to the ground via concrete footings, trees, etc. 

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01/30/2023 08:52 pm GMT

Close All Vents And Windows

It will encourage airflow to wrap around your RV.

Don’t Drive If You Can Help It 

The last thing you want to do is hop behind the wheel when the winds are too high. The safest option is for you to stay put and get as secure as you can. 

If driving isn’t essential, why put yourself in unnecessary danger? 

Driving When It’s Windy 

But if you do have to drive your RV when it’s windy, driving with the wind is not only easier, but it’s so much safer than driving into crosswinds. 

Be wary of bridges and overpasses. Since they are so elevated, they risk being extraordinarily windy and experiencing crosswinds. Proceed with caution. Crosswinds pose a severe danger to your RV.

Plan your route ahead of time and identify where wind gusts are expected. 

Keep both hands on the wheel and be ready to react at a moment’s notice. 

Take breaks often and be willing to pull over. The increased stress from compensating for wind will zap your energy and may put you on edge. Give yourself periodic breaks.

Drive slowly / at a safe speed. It will depend on your unique circumstances, but many experienced RVers don’t go faster than 55mph in the wind. 

Be aware of where the other vehicles are around you, and create a comfortable distance between them. The wind really will want to blow you into the next lane.

Don’t be afraid to pull over if you feel even ill affected or unsafe.

Now, before you head off, make sure to check out some of these other RV articles.

How Do RV Dump Stations Work?

Where Does Waste Go In an RV?

How to Keep an RV Air Conditioner from Freezing Up

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