Beware: RV awnings can become missiles

Beware: RV awnings can become missiles

It’s a good idea before hitting the highways this spring to give your RV a thorough maintenance inspection and make any necessary repairs. One of the cautions almost every RV manufacturer, insurance company and consumer group recommend is to make sure your awning is stowed and locked.

If that awning comes loose from your RV, it can become a dangerous projectile to others. In 2004, Terry Bassett was driving home in Alabama when an awning broke loose from a horse trailer ahead of him, struck his vehicle and killed him. In 2010, Ginger McSween was returning from a writers’ conference in Pensacola when an awning billowed and separated from an RV. The fabric roller tube assembly flew into her lane of traffic and went through her windshield. It struck her in the face, severely fractured her jaw, knocked out most of her teeth, and fractured her vertebra. She has survived and has undergone multiple complex surgical and medical treatments. She is still undergoing treatment according to her attorney Bill Cunningham.

Awnings should be designed to withstand wind gusts that can be expected on the highway. Before any trip, a walk-around to check the vehicle and component parts is always necessary. A detailed re-inspection should be done periodically and before any extensive trip. Some of the safety features to prevent separation are not seen by the naked eye. Because not all potential problems are obvious, an inspection of the component parts by a qualified mechanic should be performed periodically.

Originally published in the Mobile, Alabama Legal Examiner.

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