Recreational vehicles come in all shapes and sizes, from the smallest camper shell mounted on a pickup truck to the very largest and expensive self-contained motor home. While the variety of RV's is seemingly endless, certain common sense rules and laws are applicable to all vehicles.
Passengers transported within a camper must have access to an exit door which may be opened from the inside and outside. (VC Sec. 23129)
Signaling Devices must be installed in all vehicles carrying a camper and be capable of being activated from inside the camper to gain the attention of the driver. The signaling device is not required if the passengers in the camper have direct access to the cab of the motor vehicle. (VC Sec. 28080 and 28081)
Fire extinguishers (of an approved type) must be carried in all recreational vehicles equipped with cooking or heating stoves. (VC Sec. 28060)
Warning devices consisting of three approved type, red emergency reflectors, must be carried in all trailer coaches and motor homes and are to be set out during darkness if the vehicle is disabled on or within 10 feet of the roadway. Flares are not legal substitutes.
A towed vehicle must not be allowed to swerve or whip from side to side. (VC Sec. 21711)
Towing more than one vehicle with a passenger vehicle or pickup weighing less than 4,000 pounds is illegal. The driver is also required to obtain a Class A (Commercial) license when towing more than one vehicle. (VC Sec. 21715) Vehicles that are towing are required by law not to travel more than 55 MPH regardless of speed limit! (VC Sec. 22406)
Tow Dollies which are used to transport another vehicle must display a special identification plate issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles. In addition, the dolly must be coupled to the towing vehicle by means of an adequate safety chain or cable as well as the regular drawbar or other devices.
The motor vehicle being transported upon the dolly must be secured to the dolly by two separate chains or cables to prevent shifting or separation of the towed vehicle or dolly.
Overloading your camper so as to exceed the gross vehicle weight rating of the pickup truck chassis making it liable to easily overturn, is illegal. (VC Sec. 24002)
Many RV owners consider motorcycles or "three-wheelers" a necessary item to be included in their inventory for that RV owners' weekend outing or vacation, but should be aware of the laws pertaining to the safe transportation of their vehicles.
- When the two or three wheeler is carried on the front or the rear of another vehicle, it must be safely mounted and not obscure any lighting devices or license plates.
- The motorcycle must not interfere with the driver's view to the front or sides and when it is carried upon a passenger car, it may not extend beyond the fenders to the left nor more than six inches to the right.
- If the cycle is to be towed, it must be licensed. In addition, the towing device must be securely mounted and of sufficient strength for the weight of the motorcycle. An adequate safety chain is also required. During darkness, the cycle must be equipped with a headlight, tail lamp and license plate light.
- Even when carried in a trainer or pickup, all off-road cycles (and dune buggies) must display proper "off-road" registration or identification.
For those who take to the open road with trailers (and fifth wheels), driving will be much safer and relaxing when the proper precautions for towing are taken.
You must drive in the right hand lane at all times except:
- When passing
- Preparing to make a turn
- Entering or leaving a highway
- On a highway with four or more lanes in each direction, you must use the extreme two right lanes.
Following Distance . . .
Common sense dictates increased stopping distance when towing a trailer. On two-lane highways, the law requires you to stay at least 300 feet behind any truck or any vehicle towing a trailer, except when preparing to pass slow moving vehicles.
On two lane highways, the law requires any slow moving vehicle, which is impeding the progress of five or more vehicles, to turn off the roadway at either a posted turnout or wherever sufficient safe area exists. The law also prohibits persons from driving at such a slow speed as to block or impeded normal or reasonable movement of traffic, unless the reduced speed is necessary for safe operation.
Driving at Night . . .
Remember that the added weight of a trailer often tilts the headlights of your car upward to glare in the eyes of oncoming drivers. This is illegal! Check the alignment of headlights after your trailer is attached, then make any necessary adjustments.
Driving Tips for RVR's
Best days for travel...
are not weekends. Unless it's absolutely necessary, avoid traveling in your RV on Saturday and Sunday. These are the two most heavily congested traffic days around recreational areas.
Driving weekdays are much more enjoyable and relaxing.
Equipment Failures . . .
are not fun, but they happen. The most important rule to remember in the event of a mechanical problem is to pull completely off the roadway to make repairs. If you're on a freeway, attempt to take an off-ramp to a surface street before stopping. If you have no choice, always stop on the right shoulder, never in the center divider.
Caravans . . .
are problems. Most RV caravans occur on two lane roads, creating a nightmare for drivers of other vehicles. Other drivers can't see ahead, they have difficulty in passing, and as tempers flare they take chances or make driving mistakes, thus creating the perfect setting for a traffic collision which could involve you. You can contribute to safer roadways in California by discouraging caravans or establishing large spaces between the caravaning vehicles.
|Not sure which direction you're going? Easy! Watch the mile post markers. On even numbered highways the mileage always begins with 0.00 at the west end, going upward as you travel east. On odd numbered highways the miles begin at the south and go upward when traveling north. The number at the top of the paddle indicates the highway / freeway being traveled. The letters indicate the county (abbreviated).
Traffic Emergencies . . .
are likely to happen at any time or any place. If you need the California Highway Patrol, call our toll-free statewide emergency number, 911.
Please note: Dialing 911 for directions, road or weather conditions is not a proper use of the 911 system.
Check the Safety List (below) !
Don't forget to make sure that all required lighting devices on your trailer are in proper working condition.
Passengers in towed vehicles:
It is unlawful for you to tow a trailer coach or travel trailer containing any passenger (properly equipped fifth wheelers are exempted from this restriction).
Rear View Mirrors:
When the trailer or its load affects the driver's view to the rear, the law requires two rear view mirrors, one on each side of the towing vehicle, to give the driver an unobstructed view of the highway at least 200 feet behind.
Trailer Hitch and Safety Chain:
Every trailer hitch shall be properly and securely mounted and strong enough for the weight being towed. Remember it is much safer to secure the hitch to your vehicle's frame than the bumper.
There must also be a safety chain connecting both vehicles, strong enough to control the towed vehicle in case the hitch fails.
The law lists specific types of trailers which must be equipped with turn signals. Remember, turn signals must be installed on all towed vehicles when the signals from the towing vehicle are obscured or obstructed.
If at any time you have a question regarding traffic laws, don't hesitate to call the nearest office of the California Highway Patrol.
|Before you Leave
Run This Safety Checklist
|Tires - legal minimum tread is 1/32 inch. Correct pressure gives longer wear.
|Lights - Check high beams and low beams, brake, turn and tail lights
|Noise - Mufflers wear out.
|Belts - Look for wear, and a snug fit on drive belts for fan, alternator and air conditioner.
|Smog Control Devices - need service for compliance with emission standards for trouble-free, more efficient performance.
|Also, change oil filter along with the oil. Air filters also get dirty.
Good shocks give maximum control.
|Run air conditioner weekly in winter to keep seals tight.
|Tune-ups save gas.
|Worn wipers smear.
|Maintenance done at home
is a breakdown prevented on the road.
CHP 917 (Rev. 6/1997) OPI 013