RV Accidents Statistics: 19 Facts You Should Know (Explained)

RV Accidents Statistics

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An RV includes all forms of recreational vehicles, like motor homes, camper vans, fifth wheels, and toy haulers. All of these RV types are used for traveling and vacationing across North America. Despite their unique design and fun advantages, they can be really dangerous.

For example, RVs tend to have really bad blind spots and extended braking distances. As a result, RV accidents are all too common. Even more worrisome is the fact that the States don’t require special training or licensure to drive RVs, leading to inexperienced drivers.

To find out more about RV accidents and RV accident statistics, keep reading. In this article, we tell you all the facts you need to know about RV accidents. Let’s dive right in to find out more about these fun yet potentially dangerous forms of transportation.

RV Accidents Statistics To Know

RV accidents are surprisingly common. Though there are a variety of reasons that contribute to this fact, some of the most common factors include experienced drivers and senior drivers. Since the States do not require special licensure for RVs, many drivers are inexperienced.  

…feel free to use our infographics. Just remember to give us credit.

RV Accidents Statistics Trends Facts

Knowing RV accident statistics can make you more knowledgeable. The more knowledgeable you are, the less likely you are going to make the same mistakes as other RV drivers before you. Let’s check out some key RV accident statistics to know.

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RV Accident Injuries and Fatalities Statistics

The most extensive study about RV accidents was released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

πŸ‘‰ According to this study, over 70,000 people found themselves in RV accidents during 2003. Nine years later, they reported that there were 75,000 injuries because of RV accidents.

These reports show that RV accidents are becoming more common.

πŸ‘‰ In the 2003 study, the 70,000 people were simply involved in RV accidents, not injured. The 2012 report, however, looked at injuries due to the accidents.

πŸ‘‰ Even if every person involved in an RV accident was injured in 2003, it would still mean that 5000 more people were injured in 2012.

πŸ‘‰ Additionally, the Fatality Analysis Reporting System analyzed data between 2000 and 2007.

πŸ‘‰ This analysis found that 212 people died due to RV accidents. That results in an average of 26 deaths a year.

πŸ‘‰ Interestingly, 26 deaths per year is only about 1/3 of the average fatality rate for all vehicles combined.

The fact that RV fatalities are lower than all vehicle fatalities suggests that RV accidents tend to be less deadly. This could be attributed to the fact that RVs are generally driven slower and are lifted off the ground more.

Additionally, there are far fewer RV accidents than automobile accidents in general.

πŸ‘‰ As of 2021, there are about 6,000,000 car accidents every year in the USA. This is much higher than RV accidents, which shows us that you are more likely to be in a car accident than an RV accident.

One thing that is important to note about these statistics is that they are all based on limited data. Because there is not a standard definition for an RV, it’s difficult to know exact statistics for RVs.

Additionally, most of the data is based on hospitalization and facility data, which does not give a comprehensive look at minor crashes.

Common Causes of RV Accidents

Many RV crashes overlap with the causes of regular car accidents as well. However, RVs’ additional size, reduced visibility, and reduced maneuverability make them more at risk for a crash.

Here is a list of the most common causes of RV accidents:

  • Inexperienced drivers
  • Senior drivers
  • Speeding
  • Overtired drivers
  • Overloading
  • High winds
  • Runaway trailers
  • Rollover
  • Poor turns
  • Increased stopping distanced
  • Blind spots

Though it is impossible to say exactly how many RV accidents are caused by inexperienced drivers, most studies and reports predict that inexperienced drivers are the number one cause of RV accidents.

In the States, drivers are not required to get special training, licensure, or permits, despite the numerous risk factors of RVs.

Studies also suggest that the increase of senior drivers results in more RV accidents.

πŸ‘‰ It is estimated that 10% of RV drivers are seniors. Although age does not necessarily result in impaired abilities, it can make it more difficult to maneuver and respond when driving an RV, resulting in more crashes.

πŸ‘‰ Even though a large majority of RV drivers are over the age of 55, the popularity of RVs between the ages of 21 and 35 has increased over the last two years.

πŸ‘‰ In fact, 38% of campers are millennials, and campers tend to be big fans of RVs. This seems to suggest that RVs are becoming more popular with the younger generations too.

Though it is too early to say what this will mean on accident statistics, we speculate that the simple increase in RVs will result in more accidents because there are more on the road. Some people have also speculated about whether or not more young drivers will result in more accidents due to driving experience.

RV Accident Injuries

πŸ‘‰ As we mentioned above, there are about 75,000 hospitalizations per year because of RV accidents. Currently, the number one injury associated with RV accidents is head drama.

After that, fractures, cuts, facial injuries, and spinal cord injuries are the most common.

Key Take-Aways

These RV accident statistics tell us that RV accidents are less common than automobile accidents, but they should be taken seriously.

Inexperienced drivers and seniors are two of the leading causes of RV accidents, which can lead to head trauma, lacerations, and other serious issues.

You can try to prevent RV accidents by being more aware when driving.  

Class A RV Accident Statistics: What To Consider

Of the different RV classifications, Class As are the least safe. They are not designed to withstand a lot of impact from the front, side, or rear.

Because of this fact, it is actually relatively common for Class A RVs to be completely totaled from a serious accident. More so, the popularity of Class A RVs makes them the most likely to be crashed.

Because of how dangerous Class A RV accidents can be, it is important to be as cautious as possible when driving.

They are not crash tested and they do not meet federal safety belt standards, even though they do provide over-the-shoulder safety for the driver and copilot. They don’t come with airbags, either.  

Some things you should keep in mind when driving a Class A RV is the blind spot, increased braking distance, and driving experience. If you are not cautious with your driving, it is very likely that you total your Class A RV.

What Are the Most Common RV Accidents?

The most common RV accident results in damage to the right side of the vehicle that is low to the ground and in front of the rear tire.

This damage is due to off-tracking, as well as rear overhang swing. Although these terms sound fancy, you’ll probably understand what they are as soon as we start describing them.

Off tracking is basically when your back wheels follow a different direction whenever you cut the wheel.

This is likely to happen whenever you turn your RV to the right or left, especially if you are trying to make a tight turn. You must give the RV more room when you turn or else you will scrape the backside of the RV.

Additionally, right turns are more common than left turns. They also have bigger blind spots. That is why it is more common to experience accidents on the right side than it is on the left.  

What Causes RV Accidents?

As we described above, the most common cause of RV accidents is inexperienced drivers.

πŸ‘‰ Although all RV drivers must be over the age of 21, there are no other training, licensure or permits required.

This is a shame since RVs are designed very differently from automobiles. Just because you are a good car driver does not mean you know how to drive an RV.

For one thing, RVs are much longer, meaning that they require more space for turning. If you do not know how much space your RV needs, you will easily get into the most common RV accident, which involves scraping the backside of the vehicle against an object when you are turning.  

More so, RVs are much heavier than the average automobile, which is why they require more space to brake completely. Many inexperienced drivers don’t know this fact, causing them to rear-end other vehicles or run stop signs accidentally.

Although inexperienced drivers are not the only reason for RV accidents, the vast majority of RV accidents go back to some sort of inexperience on the driver’s part.

Trailer Sway Accident Statistics

Trailers are very tall and heavy. Whenever the wind blows really hard, it can cause them to sway. In a worst-case scenario, the entire trailer or camper can sway so much that it hits objects to the side or rolls over completely.

Trailer sway can also happen from the vacuum that is created between two trailers when they pass one another.

πŸ‘‰ On average, about 500,000 accidents occur because of trailer sway. These accidents aren’t just money-draining, but they can be lethal as well.

πŸ‘‰ Between 1975 and 2008, over 15,000 people died due to accidents with trailers. More so, 470,000 people were injured and nearly $35.6 billion of property damage was created.

These statistics show that trailer sway accidents are very common and something you should not treat lightly.

They are very common because of wind and a vacuum effect that occurs whenever two trailers pass one another.

Fifth Wheel RV Accidents: What You Need To Know

πŸ‘‰ Fifth wheels are a special type of RV that attach to a pickup truck bed. These RVs can be anywhere between 17 to 40 feet.

Although these RVs may appear safer than other forms, they are incredibly dangerous as well.

Most notably, fifth wheels have a really bad blind spot. In fact, the blind spot on fifth wheels is often bigger than the blind spot on other RV types.

If you are not aware of this fact, it can be really easy to get into an accident due to your fifth wheel’s blind spot.

Before taking your fifth wheeler on the road, it’s a good idea to test out your blind spot extensively. You can do this by parking your fifth wheeler and have someone walk along the sides of the RV. This will tell you exactly where your blind spots are.

Testing out these blind spots will make you more educated when you drive and decrease the chances of getting into an accident due to blind spots.

Are RVs Safe In A Crash?

Certain RVs are safer in a crash than others. Most notably, Class B RVs are made from steel and metal, making them more capable of withstanding the impact of the accident. If you want the safest RV, Class B RVs are the best.

After Class B, midsize Class C RVs are the second safest. The RV driver and co-pilot will be thoroughly protected during the collision. However, Class C RVs are not as safe for back passengers as the Class B option. They are also more vulnerable from the side.  

The least safe RV in a crash is a Class A. Class A motorhomes sit high off the road and do not offer much impact protection.

They also do not have to meet seat belt requirements and often do not come with airbags. They are not tested for rollovers either, meaning that they are not very stable at times.

Fatal RV Accident

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Final Thoughts

RVs can be really dangerous vehicles to drive. Because of their size and inexperienced drivers, it is really easy to get into an accident. Luckily, RV accidents are less common than other automobile accidents.

Still, their accidents can be fatal, meaning you need to take them seriously.

To help prevent RV accidents from occurring, make sure to understand the weight, braking system, blind spot, and turns of your RV.

If you understand these key facts, you will be much more experienced than other RV drivers on the road, resulting in a safer driving experience.




Mike Gilmour

Hi, I'm Mike, co-founder, and editor of RV and Playa. My passion is traveling (with my RV) and enjoying the day at the beach (Playa)! Well, I originally created this blog as a way to share what I've learned by experimenting with the RV lifestyle, and I want to help others develop in life through new skills and opportunities.

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