Truck Camper Driving Safety 101: The Basics
(from Our Friends at TruckCamperMagazine.com by Gary Whistler)
Make a habit about walking around your rig and doing inspections
Before leaving for a camping trip, do a pre-trip walk around your truck and camper the same way each time. Make this pre-trip walk around a habit.
On the outside, inspect your windshield wipers, check for tire wear, and check the tire pressure. Open the truck hood and make sure everything looks right.
Once your truck and camper are connected via the umbilical cord, check your headlights, high and low beams, tail lights, brake lights, four-way caution lights, and turn signals. Don't forget to reposition your mirrors.
Check your camper's turnbuckles to make sure they are tensioned and connected properly. Also check for open roof vents, open windows, and raised television antennas. Inside your truck and camper check that all drawers, cabinet latches, and bathroom doors are secured. Any loose items should also be put away and secured.
If you are towing, make sure your cargo is secure, and check the lights and brakes on your trailer. There have been many excellent seminars on proper towing equipment such as what class hitch, weight distribution, sway bars, etc. If you are towing, or thinking about towing, be sure you have a nice working understanding of the towing process before hooking to a trailer of any kind.
Avoiding Common Accidents
The most frequent types of accidents are lane change accidents and backing accidents.
To avoid causing these types of accidents, make sure you properly adjust your mirrors prior to driving your rig. While seated in the driver's seat, find a natural sitting position and find where your blind spots are. Then adjust the side mirrors until these blind spots are mitigated as much as possible. Most trucks have extendable mirrors. Use this feature as it adds a huge safety advantage with your camper on board.
It's likely that you won't be able to eliminate all blind spots with your mirrors. However, knowing where your blind spots are will help you to avoid lane change and backing accidents. A typical blind spot can exist from the back of the driver's or passenger's door to the rear axle.
When your camper is mounted on your truck, you need to adjust your mirrors so you see just the corner of your camper in your right and left side mirrors. If you have your mirrors adjusted correctly, you will know that someone is passing you. I look in my mirrors approximately every five seconds when I'm driving to make sure that I know what's going on around the rig. Adjust them and know how to use them. Yes, it is really that important.
When driving on a highway, entrance lanes and ramps can be an issue. When driving in a congested area, I suggest avoiding the right lane unless you are entering or exiting the highway. Stay in the middle lane and go with the flow of traffic.