How fast should you drive an RV is an important question for newbies and experienced RVers alike. New RVers probably do not know and experienced RVers may be a little more confident than is wise.
The number of people I have seen whipping down the freeway driving 80 miles per hour towing a fifth wheel or travel trailer is way higher than it should be. Let me just remind you, you are towing a HOUSE down the road.
How fast you CAN drive or tow an RV is a lot faster than how fast you SHOULD drive. Let’s dig into some details about why you should really, really slow down! Remember, you must always follow all applicable laws and use your own discretion in order to drive safely.
How Fast CAN You Drive an RV or Tow an RV?
Theoretically, you can drive an RV as fast as your vehicle or motorhome can go. Are you likely to be able to sustain that speed without rolling your rig? Probably (definitely) not. While some states don’t differentiate speed limits for RVs, there are a handful that do. Therefore, how fast you can go will be limited in some places by the laws of the land.
However, even if there aren’t any RV or towing specific speed limits, that doesn’t mean you should go as fast as the speed limit.
How Fast SHOULD You Drive an RV or Tow an RV?
The absolute maximum you should really travel when towing an RV or driving a motorhome is 65 miles per hour. Carry On Trailer recommends a speed of only 55 miles per hour when towing a trailer. Weather, road conditions, and RV size and weight all play a role in how fast you can safely drive your RV. In most cases, slow and steady wins the race.
Typically, Joel and I don’t exceed 60-63 miles per hour in our Class A motorhome. When it’s windy or the road isn’t great, we end up traveling closer to 55 miles per hour. Sometimes, we are crawling even slower. But hey, we’re out RVing and that’s what matters way more than getting somewhere fast.
We learned the hard way when planning our first RV trip the Google Maps time estimate is going to be sadly wrong when traveling by RV. Learn from our mistake and divide the number of miles by 55-60 depending on how fast you are likely to drive so you don’t roll up in the dark.
Risks of Driving Your RV Too Fast
Driving your RV too fast has some potentially serious consequences. Just because they haven’t happened to you yet, doesn’t mean they can’t. The longer you spend on the road traveling at too high of speeds, the more likely you are to get into an accident.
- Death. I don’t mean to be dramatic here, but seriously, is getting to your family vacation a little bit faster really worth getting in an accident for? RV accidents are no joke. Serious injury and death can and do occur.
- Rolling your RV. Driving a car or truck is much, much different from driving an RV. You have much better control and handling in a smaller vehicle. Unexpected objects, jerks cutting you off, a gust of wind, or a big bump in the road usually won’t cause you to wreck when driving a car. In an RV, these seemingly minor issues become magnified.
- Damage to your RV and its contents. Consistently traveling at high speeds in an RV can also cause damage to your rig.
When you drive fast, any bumps in the road are exacerbated, jarring your trailer around and shaking up your contents. High speeds also increase the likelihood of having trailer sway, which is one of the scarier things an RVer can experience on the road.
RVs aren’t designed to withstand the treatment that some people put them through. Considering how poorly most manufacturers make RVs to begin with, you should probably take it easy on your rig, so it will last you for years to come.
Benefits of Driving Your RV More Slowly
On the flip side, driving more slowly has lots of benefits. Here are some of the top reasons to slow down and simply enjoy the good life.
- Better fuel economy. RVs get pretty terrible gas mileage to begin with. Add that to the skyrocketing fuel prices just in time for peak RV season, and it definitely doesn’t hurt to do everything you can to maximize your fuel economy. Driving more slowly improves your fuel efficiency so you can save your money for something more fun.
- A more relaxing trip. Part of the draw of RVing is the joy of getting there. You don’t have to cram everything into a tiny vehicle. You don’t have to stand in line at security and wait two hours for a plane to arrive. In fact, RV travel is pretty luxurious.
Slowing down lets you take in the sights and feel less stressed. That way, when you arrive at your destination, you can simply enjoy yourself instead of needing to decompress from a white-knuckle drive to the campground.
- Keep your RV running smoothly. Driving more slowly doesn’t just help your tires. It also cuts down on wear-and-tear throughout the RV. A slow and steady pace will help your engine run better/longer because you aren’t pushing it to the limit. You also won’t have to worry about wearing through your brakes as quickly since you’re less likely to have to hard brake when traveling at a more reasonable speed.
- Avoiding accidents. No one wants to get in an accident. Driving more slowly gives you more time to react and avoid accidents. Not only would an accident be costly and dangerous in the short term, but you’ll also be stuck with the pain of increased insurance premiums for the rest of your life. (Maybe not really the rest of your life, but the insurance company is definitely going to nail you if you make a claim on an RV as their costs are likely to be quite hefty.)
Conclusion: How Fast Should You Drive an RV?
When driving or towing an RV, you really shouldn’t exceed 65 miles per hour if you want to keep your rig in tiptop shape. Driving your RV between 55 and 63 miles per hour is an even better bet for the reasons mentioned above.
Traveling more slowly gives you more time to react and avoid road hazards, leads to less wear and tear on your vehicle and tires, reduces the chance of sway, decreased driving stress, and saves you money on gas. What’s not to love?