Driving an RV in windy conditions isn’t something that regular vehicle owners think much about. It’s rare for wind speeds to reach a level where SUVs and other auto owners have cause for concern. However, that’s not the same with RV owners, especially Class-A motorhome owners.
Driving Class A RV in Windy Conditions: A Good Idea?
An RV sits much higher on the road than an automobile. Let’s face it, it’s a moving, rectangular object that isn’t exact ergo dynamic! So, windy conditions will buffet the RV around on the road when the wind speed gets up there.
There are two main issues with driving a Class A RV in windy conditions:
1. Class A RV Side-to-Side Movement
When driving on a major highway that’s open enough to funnel the wind from one end of it to the other, it becomes torturous. Also, there’s the possibility of a crosswind that can push the motorhome either to the left or right and out of your driving lane too.
Being pushed across the road due to high winds becomes an issue in the 10-20 MPH range. At that point, and especially when the winds are not coming straight at the Class A RV, it will get pushed around. This requires constant vigilance and driving direction corrections to keep the motorhome traveling in the correct lane.
2. How Much Wind Does It Take to Flip an RV?
How much wind can an RV withstand? A wind speed of approximately 40 MPH is too much for a Class A RV to handle. At this level, it can completely flip over due to sudden extreme gusts of wind that exceed this limit. Therefore, under 40 MPH is best, and preferably considerably below it.
As you may have seen in RV accidents (and truck accidents too), RVs don’t usually survive getting tipped over. They typically come apart at their weakest point, spewing their contents all over the road and roadside as it does so. At this point, the RV is a write-off. It will also endanger anyone inside, even if they’re wearing a seat belt.
There’s a good question to be asked about RV insurance and whether you’re breaching one of the clauses in the insurance contract when driving a motorhome RV in high winds. It could be seen as reckless and irresponsible, so don’t count on the insurance paying out either.
Also Read: How to Secure a Travel Trailer in High Winds
Driving vs. Stationary in High Winds
There’s a considerable difference between traveling in a Class A RV in high winds and the Class A being parked up at home or in an RV campground.
As we mentioned earlier, anything above 40 MPH while underway is likely to tip over any RV, but especially a large Class A that will provide plenty of volume for the wind to slam into!
With a stationary RV that’s been parked up due to the local wind speeds or because that’s where you were anyway, then it’s different. A static or motionless Class A RV may withstand 75 MPH winds or more and not get tipped over. Sure, it’ll rock left and right in strong gusts. You’ll surely know it and should be disconnected from any hook-ups and lower the solar panels to fix them in place. But the Class A RV should hold its ground.
What About RV Slide Outs in High Winds?
RV slides in or out in a storm? Anything exterior to the RV should be dismantled and brought inside or returned to its lowered position as if preparing to head out in your Class A.
Specifically, RV slide outs in high winds should always be fully retracted and secured as best as possible. Because should the slide out material gets loose, it will flap and eventually become torn. Furthermore, any supporting poles or metal attached to it could snap off, work loose, and become a dangerous flying object at speed!
If you’re concerned about living in a windy area, then you may wish to purchase an RV hurricane strap kit or awning strap down kit for added protection in the storms.
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. ℹ
Driving Class A RV in Windy Conditions: How to Do It?
When driving a motorhome in high winds or potentially high winds, here are some suggestions that relate particularly to your Class A (but apply to Class B and Class C RVs too).
Drive More Slowly
The speed of travel is a significant factor in how likely the RV is to tip over when driving.
If you’re trying to get to a specific destination and the Class A is sliding around a bit, then drive slower.
Yes, this means that it’ll require more time in windy conditions to get there, but it’s still much safer if you’re unable to pull over at that moment.
Expect to Get More Tired
Fighting the wind constantly while driving a large Class A RV is no mean task. It requires strong forearms, wrists, and handgrip strength to keep the motorhome steady.
Depending on your previous driving experience, and with RV driving specifically, you may be less or more prepared for it. And if you live in a windy area where you’re regularly driving in windy conditions, then your body will adapt to the requirements to handle it.
Drive with Both Hands on the Steering Wheel
While you may usually drive the Class A one-handed much of the time, it’s not the time to do so now.
Keeping the RV steady and on the correct path will require all your strength to do so.
Don’t Get Distracted
Any corrections to the driving direction, especially in wind, will require considerably more time to get to where you’re wanting to be. As such, it’s necessary to begin the directional adjustment much earlier to fight the wind and get the RV back on course.
You cannot make corrections early enough when you’re distracted by the kids, your partner, a mobile app notification, or anything else. This is the time that driving must have 100% of your focused attention and nothing less will do.
Look for Road and Off-road Obstacles
Wind causes branches to snap off trees and lie in the road. Sometimes, they can get blown from off the roadway onto it just as you’re traveling through. If this happens to a car, they may swerve to avoid it which creates a knock-on potential collision for you. Therefore, greater vigilance is required at this time to react to the unexpected.
Think about falling debris from an overpass, trees, and more. Don’t get complacent.
Keep Your Distance
Class A RVs require more time to come to a complete stop. This is worsened when fighting the wind, possibly rain, or hail as well.
Other drivers may brake suddenly and unexpectedly too. So, keep your distance – more than usual – to allow sufficient braking time to not get caught out.
Also, be aware of vehicles on either side of you too. They can easily get blow sideways into your path or the side of your Class A.
Swap Drivers or Take Regular Breaks
If you have more than one potential RV driver on board, then swap driving duties to give each other a rest from it. Alternatively, if one driver in a couple is more experienced, then let them drive while it’s windy.
Also, take a driving break at least every hour. It gives the weather a chance to calm down, but it also ensures that the driver will stay alert when behind the wheel. Driving too long can make you feel drowsy and less attentive to what’s happening. And that’s not good at all!
Distribute Weight Better in the RV
With a more evenly distributed weight inside the RV, it’s going to sway back and forth less than it otherwise would. It adds to its overall stability and reduces the chances of it tipping over.
Get Alerts Before the Wind Arrives
Use a desktop solution like Wind Alert to check on the wind from your laptop before setting off.
Also, use your weather app of choice to keep updated on wind speed changes and receive local storm alerts while driving.
Use Rest Stops or Other Places to Park Up
If you can do so, park at a rest stop, a gas station, or another place that allows RVers to park without any hassle.
As mentioned earlier, in high winds, Class A’s will do far better when they’re stationary than when they’re on the move. They can withstand almost double the wind speed when stationary, especially if you can find a place that’s behind a building or otherwise in a wind-sheltered spot.
Get creative about where to park. You can always ask the manager if you can park there for an hour or more until the wind calms down to avoid the RV tipping over while driving. Few people are going to object to that when they see how bad a storm has become.
5th Wheels in High Winds
While this article is about Class A RVs, towing 5th wheels in high winds is worth a mention because they’re a similar size.
Towing in windy conditions is a high-risk venture. The same rules do not apply as with a Class A RV. We would strongly recommend not towing a fifth-wheel in high winds at all. Even towing a travel trailer in 20 mph winds is likely to cause it to tip over. With a fifth wheel, as little as 10 MPH could potentially cause it to rock around and eventually tip over. At the very least, the tow hitch is likely to get broken and the 5th wheel could come free from the tow while in transit. This could be disastrous.
Driving an RV in windy conditions is never recommended. It is always best to let the storm pass, secure the Class A, and live to fight another day. When this isn’t possible, follow the above suggestions for how to drive safer and take precautions to avoid an accident or sustaining storm or hail damage to the RV.
As a side note, towing any camper, trailer, or even a 5th wheel in windy conditions is not recommended. These don’t have the stability of Class A, B, or C motorhomes, and will tip over even in relatively light winds. So, please just don’t risk it.