Avoid big trouble: know your RV’s height

Avoid big trouble: know your RV’s height

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

It should be intuitive for RVers, but a British insurance firm has the “straight up” facts: If you keep your RV height posted in view of the driver, you’ll be less likely to get snagged by a “low bridge” situation.

The U.K. company Caravan Guard was shocked when finding the number of claims for damages from smacking into something high up jump six-fold between 2005 and 2008. Since the average claim represented damages pushing $4,000 (U.S.), the company was rightly concerned and marched out a campaign to make RV drivers more conscious of their rig’s height. Company insureds were provided a sticker showing the rig’s dimensions and asked to post it on their windshield visor.

Results? Since the sticker plan went into effect in 2009, the company says overhead damage claims have fallen by 43 percent. The company is sticking to the plan, and now offering all U.K. RV owners free dimension stickers.

Since the offer won’t help those of us on this side of the pond, we’re recapping information we’ve earlier published on knowing how tall your rig is. It’s a quick project, but one worth the effort.

First, start with your rig on a level surface, preferably on pavement. There are different ways of measuring, and we’ll start with this one:

Using a tape measure, measure the height from ground to roof level. Add the height of the tallest object on the roof, tack on a couple of inches for a safety margin and you’re done.

A more accurate method involves a bit of equipment. For many of us, the tallest point of our rig is the roof air conditioner. Take a 10-foot 2×4 or other chunk of dimensional lumber and lay it across the top of the a/c unit, so that the ends of the lumber stick out beyond the edge of the roof. Now measure up to the board and call the longest measure your height.

Others who are more technologically advanced could place a laser level on the top of the a/c unit, pinpointing the laser point out across the edge of the roof, then use a chunk of wood or a very rigid measuring stick to determine the height, based on where the laser point falls.

Of course, if you’ve something higher than your a/c unit at roof top (our wind turbine blades are our high point), you’ll have to do a bit of estimating to figure the difference and include this in your calculations. Again, you may want to add an inch or two as a “fudge factor” just in case.

Print the information on a card or label and post it near the driver. Right on the windshield visor is a great place, and learn your height so you don’t have to wait for help after driving under something a wee bit too short.

For a video illustrating failure to observe RV height restrictions, check out this YouTube video. (Note: Don’t click on above photo to watch.)