Woodalls Open Roads Forum: RV Crash Safety & Illusions of Safety
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liquidspaceman

Los Angeles

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Posted: 05/04/13 06:01pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hello,

I am new to this forum. I joined so that I could discuss RV safety or rather the illusion of safety. What brought me here was that I bought a Class C motorhome recently. After noticing that the dinette had seatbelts but that the dinette itself was simply made of wood and screwed into a wood floor, I became pretty surprised that this passes for safe where our children would be located. I'm pretty sure in a front crash over 40 mph they would be pretty hurt with nothing but a lap belt connected to pressed wood.

My thoughts have been sort of swirling in my head lately. Everything from studying statistics that show Class C's are relatively safe compared to Class A's (for the cab at least). Then I see pictures of the back area obliterated by a sideswipe.

My understanding is that the frames of the rear are made with light aluminum, wood and fiberclass, none of which would provide much protection in a real accident. I have been thinking of just ignoring it and facing facts that "we all gotta die sometime" but it has been eating at me because my kids will be in the back and that's not really an attitude I'd like to take with them.

Which brings me to the reason for my post. I was considering constructing a cage of sorts in the area just behind the driver/passenger area. Here is my thought:

1. Construct a multi-point cage made of roll-bar material that would go over the dinette and the chair behind the passenger seat. Get it welded to the chassis frame or aircraft bolted.

2. Rip the dinette set out as it's nothing but particle board stapled to the floor anyway. Remove the crappy sideways barrel chair by the door as being sideways is UNSAFE in a crash.

3. Buy 3 driver's style seats or captain type chairs that are from salvaged ford vans/trucks. Put one driver seat where the barrel chair is, mounted to the frame. Same with the other 2 chairs, place one forward facing by the dinette area and 1 rear facing by dinette area. Basically two chairs facing each other where the dinette once was - bolted or welded to the chassis in some manner. This may require me to rip the floor up.

4. The rear of the cage assembly, I would create a wall that allows entry into the back compartment. This wall would basically block any debris that flew in the direction of the cage. This would be made of sheet metal and have a door to enter the kitchen/bathroom/bedroom area and the door could be locked and/or slid open when we are camping.

AM I CRAZY? Please tell me that I'm not the first person to think of family safety while driving one of these things?

Tom N

Sarver, PA/Crystal River, FL/Shelocta, PA

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Posted: 05/04/13 06:07pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

RV's have very few, if any, on the road safety features.

One would be safer traveling in a car or flying and staying in motels, hotels or condos.


Sarver, PA/Crystal River, FL/Shelocta, PA · W3TLN · FMCA 335149 · Mystic Knights of the Sea
2005 Suncruiser 38R · W24 chassis, no chassis mods needed · 2013 Honda Accord EX-L · 2008 Honda Odyssey EX-L



dahkota

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Posted: 05/04/13 06:19pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

It would probably be easier and safer to buy a tt and a good tow vehicle.


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path1

Wa State (wet side)

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Posted: 05/04/13 06:22pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

My class C seat belts at the table go thru a slot then to a metal frame work that is bolted to frame.
also see http://www.kirotv.com/news/news/rv-crash-deaths-under-investigation/nDrSW/ Old article but little has changed since then. I saved because of an earlier article about a driver pinned after some cabinet and frame work came loose going down the road and couldn't get his leg up to step on brake, hit another car resulting in several deaths along with his own. I like metal in front of me hence class C.


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1997 33 ft Holiday Rambler, Never again will a new RV come into this family
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Ivylog

Blairsville, GA and WPB, FL.

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Posted: 05/04/13 06:25pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I remember as a child sleeping on the back shelf under the rear window in a car that had no seat belts. I agree the belts in the dinette need to be bolted through the floor with large washers. Agree with replacing the barrel chair. All of your front mods will only work if the kids always stay strapped in while moving... good luck with that. Crazy, no but paranoid maybe.


This post is my opinion (free advice). It is not intended to influence anyone's judgment nor do I advocate anyone do what I propose.

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past-MIdirector

Michigan

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Posted: 05/04/13 06:41pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We've been RVing for almost 40 years with our kids growing up and now getting ready to retire and full time. We started out with a B and then to a C. Then three A in a row. Other than a few minor bumps we never had an accident in the RVs. When we had the C the kids use to get up in the cab over going down the road and in the first A they use to watch TV. A lot has to do with the way you drive and speeds.
Things have changed over the years and there has been improvement in the construction and safety in the RVs. We never worn seat belts until the 80s in any of our vehicles. Up until we got the present 2004 Bounder I very rarely worn the seat beat in the MH.
We have traveled well over 200,000 miles in our RVs over the years. As I stated earlier a lot has to do with your driving abilities, speeds, and driving defensively. I feel much safer in the RV than in a car, train, or plane.





WyoTraveler

Northwest, Wyoming

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Posted: 05/04/13 06:42pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have a class A. In an accident probably no safety. If we were younger and were concerned about child safety, like in previous post, I would have a TT & tow vehicle. You have much better safety in an accident for all occupants in the vehicle. Back in early times when we had kids there was no internet. We were unaware of the safety problems. Otherwise I would have been RVing in a TT.


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liquidspaceman

Los Angeles

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Posted: 05/04/13 06:48pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks everyone for your feedback. Lots of good points from all. I know I'm being paranoid. Maybe if I can just get some chairs that are bolted to the floor I can do without the cage.

pigman1

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Posted: 05/04/13 06:56pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You've found a design problem that all RV's have to a greater or lesser extent. The problem all can be traced back to the fact that there are no Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for other than the front 2 seats and seat area in RV's. Without seeing your design and how it's constructed and fastened to the vehicle chassis, I cant say how it might work in a crash. Not only should you consider a frontal crash, but an off axis crash and a rollover should be examined. All that said, and considering the work and time involved as well as the added weight and inconvenience it would entail, perhaps dahkota's suggestion about a trailer and good tow vehicle might be a better way to go.

Furthermore, if you've viewed the statistics on RV crashes, their frequency and severity, and overall death and injury rates, you've seen that the probability of being hurt or killed in an RV crash is quite low in comparison to other everyday activities. Without a doubt this is due in large part to overall exposure to the hazard and not to too much crash survivability inherent in the machines, but it is still a valid point to consider.

Good luck with however you decide to address this problem and I congratulate you on realizing there is such a problem in RV's and attempting to address it. The vast majority of RV'ers don't ever think about it.

My background is as a safety engineer, traffic safety specialist and safety educator.


Pigman & Piglady
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truepath

Minnesota

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Posted: 05/04/13 06:58pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

With a class C it seems to me that you are really at the mercy of the coach manufacturer to build in safety features. Your observations about safety considerations in your unit are probably not out of the ordinary for a class C. Without a bunch of testing, it is probably difficult to say how much your planned mods will improve safety, although they sound to me like an improvement to what's there now. One thing though that I would think about is the potential responsibility you are assuming by making these kinds of mods particularly when it comes to subsequent owners/users of your unit. Also, do you feel competent to design appropriate safety mods and are you going to be able to find someone willing to implement your designs. You have raised an important issue that I don't think those of us with RV's have thought enough about. It would be interesting to hear what the RV manufacturers have to say about this.

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