Driving an RV at night doesn’t have to be as daunting as it seems. If you prepare your RV and take safety precautions, driving an RV after dark can be quite peaceful.
Pros of Driving Your RV at Night
Fewer Cars on the Road
Let’s begin with the most important pro to driving at night: traffic isn’t as bad. Handling an RV on the road while people are constantly entering and exiting can be stressful. You have to maintain constant contact with your mirrors and with the road ahead. Driving at night doesn’t exclude you from this, but there are fewer vehicles to keep in view. In addition, since the other vehicles have their headlights in use, they may be easier to see.
Heavy wind can be one of the most dangerous weather situations an RV driver has to confront. Wind blows you all over the road and can pose a risk. Heavy wind occasionally comes at night, but usually wind settles down after sunset.
In addition to the sun going down after dark, kids tend to start winding down, too. After a long day on the road, nightfall is the perfect time to tuck in tired kiddos. Sleeping children can make for a much quieter cabin.
Cons of Driving Your RV at Night
Oncoming Traffic and Headlights
Headlights may make other vehicles on the road easier to see after dark, but everything else is harder to see. This includes animals that may cross the road in front of you. To drive safely at night, leave even more space between you and the vehicle in front of you and keep a keener eye on the road.
If your RV breaks down during the day, finding reliable help can be difficult enough. At night, it may be even more difficult and could take a lot longer. So, if you’re planning to drive at night, review your route ahead of time, look into roadside assistance options, and create an emergency plan. Use the Togo RV app to save information for RV service contacts along your route.
Not exactly sure where that campground is located? It’s going to be a bit more challenging to find in the dark, especially if your copilot has decided to bed down for the night. Make sure someone stays awake with you to keep an extra set of eyes on the road and help with any directions.
Parking headaches during the day are only more painful at night. So, take a deep breath and go slow.
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Preparing to Drive Your RV at Night
Here are five tips to help you see where you’re going and minimize distractions as you drive through the night.
Adjust Your Headlights
Your RV’s headlights can actually pop out of alignment for several reasons. The headlights can become loosened over time. Tire pressure and where you carry your load can also decrease their effectiveness. A heavy load in the back of your RV might cause the headlights to point toward the sky rather than down the road.
Some RVs have headlights with a bubble level inside to help you make the proper adjustment, but many don’t. Check with your owner’s manual on how to make sure the headlights are where they need to be—guiding the way after dark.
Clean Your Windshield
Over time, a vehicle’s air vents can spew out a film that covers your windshield and makes it harder to see at night. This is especially true of newer RVs. Make sure your windshield is as clean as possible, inside and out. A handy trick is to use newspaper instead of a cloth towel to wipe the glass cleaner. Newspaper cleans residue and doesn’t leave behind any lint.
Dim the Cabin
The darker it gets outside, the more distracting it is to have light inside the cabin. Dim the dashboard lights as much as possible and, if you don’t have an auto-dimming rearview mirror, flip it to the nighttime driving position.
Be on the Lookout for Animals
Wildlife are more active in the evening than during the day. The cover of dark helps protect them from predators, but it also helps to hide them from you. Keep an eye out for creatures like deer. You’ll most likely see the reflection of light in their eyes before you see the actual animal, so look for those glowing dots. But it’s good to note that not all animals’ eyes reflect, so just be aware. Bison, for example, don’t have reflecting eyes and are abundant, especially around parks like Yellowstone, so always be on watch.
If you have fog lights on your RV, use them. If you don’t, you may want to add auxiliary lights up front. Don’t overdo it, though. Too much light can blind oncoming traffic and become a serious safety hazard.
Light bars are helpful for driving in low-density traffic areas where the glare is less likely to blind oncoming vehicles. The two main types of light bars are high-intensity discharge (HID) and light-emitting diode (LED). HID lights illuminate longer distances in front of your RV. LEDs emit a more dispersed light that illuminates the side of the road or the surface conditions in front of you.
Driving an RV at night has pros and cons, but if you prepare yourself and your vehicle beforehand you should be up to the task.