Distracted Drivers… Sheesh!

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Ethan/Flickr Creative Commons

OK folks, prepare for a bit of a rant. Several years back I began noticing that one of the key features on I-1o was damaged guard rails. And I mean damaged. Like the idiot who hit the rail didn’t even put on the brakes, just plowed into the thing. And there is a little stretch of road that I travel pretty frequently where no sooner does the county or highway dept replace the rail and install new posts than it’s peeled back and sheared off again more or less within 24 hours it seems. So is the problem that the rails are hard to see? Are they installed too close to an active lane? Is it sleepy truckers (which is what the big push was a few years ago)? Or is it bored motorists Facebooking their way down the highway?

Lord have mercy people, which is more important: being brielfy entertained on your trip by watching the video of that cat trying to jump off the dresser and slipping, answering a chatty text, or arriving at your destination with vehicle, life, and insurance policy intact? Now, some could say this is a generational problem…I mean after all the statistics show that the highest number of distracted driving accidents occur in the 16-24 year old age range, but the funny thing is when I was growing up that age group had the highest number of accidents as well and our phones were on the wall next to the kitchen!

According to TXDOT, over 500 people a year die in our state in distracted driving accidents, and 1 in 5 accidents state wide are due to distracted driving. Granted their definition is not just phone related, they also include the ladies putting on makeup, the folks fiddling with their GPS, folks who are eating lunch, changing a CD, and they even include folks who are READING. I love a good book, I really do, but reading one on I-35 driving through Austin, for example, isn’t a diversion…it’s suicide. So can we all just prioritize a little bit and while we’re in our cars just concentrate on getting from Point A to Point B through the maze of distracted drivers without becoming one ourselves? This has been an Important Safety Message from RV Nana, and I approve this message. Ha!

Aw, Hail!

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Terry Presley/Flickr Creative Commons

I can’t remember if we’ve ever talked about hail. Of so, it’s been a long, long, long time and we might as well hit it again. So here we are mid-spring, the weather has been mostly wonderful. Central Texas, and North Texas too, have had some pretty powerful weather over the course of the spring and that belt of the state from north of Austin to the Red River gets strong storms pretty regularly. I still remember when Jarrell got wiped out by a tornado back in the 90’s. So what do you do when those storms are coming and they’re bringing hail and damaging winds with them?

Now it’s almost a cliche about RVs and travel trailers being beaten up by bad weather, but there is nothing more important than the well being of yourself and your loved ones. If weather is headed your way, and you don’t have time to get moving out of it’s path, your absolute best option is to seek shelter. That applies whether it’s straight-line winds, severe lightning, floods, hail, etc etc etc. Find yourself a sturdy, permanent structure if possible and get inside. Then keep away from windows and wait it out.

So you’ve made it through the storm and you’re looking your RV over immediately afterwards and it has taken a beating. We here at PPL can help you get it back to looking it’s best with replacement for all that damaged stuff up on top. I’m talking about replacements for refrigerator vent covers, vent lids, A/C shrouds, plumbing vent caps, and if you have punctures we even have self-adhesive rubber roof repair kits. Chances are if you have antennas mounted up top, they’ve taken a beating too. It’s amazing the amount of stuff we have up there that kind of gets forgotten about. So if you’ve gone through some severe weather, survey your RV or trailer, than call us and let us know how we can help you get back on the road!

 

Safety First!

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Amy Meredith/Flickr Creative Commons

Have you seen those almost improbable sounding commercials on TV where the proud father and beautiful young daughter are standing side by side beaming at the camera and talking about their special family tradition of changing the batteries in the smoke detector on her birthday? First time I saw that commercial I rolled my eyes to myself at the sheer cheesiness of it, but the fact of the matter is… it’s very important to change the batteries in your smoke detector annually and it very much helps to remind you to do it on an important day that you actually remember. We change ours during the Thanksgiving holidays, and to my knowledge we’ve only forgotten once!

When it comes to these sort of safety features and RVs, there are a couple things other than smoke we should be concerned with detecting. Carbon Monoxide is the silent killer for sure, and our engines in the RVs produce it. Having a Carbon Monoxide detector in the cab of the RV somewhere is a very very good idea, especially with the older models where the seals and exhaust system might not be in the best condition. LP gas leaks should also be detected as early as possible.

We actually have a combination Carbon Monoxide/LP gas detector in our RV and it works great. It’s made by Safe-T-Alert, and mounts flush to the wall and powered by the 12V system which means we don’t have to worry about changing the batteries in these detectors! It’s incredibly simple to use and test too. Best thing is if the alarm goes off and you mute it…it will still operate normally in muted mode and if the conditions do not improve the alarm will re-sound. It’s a pretty handy gadget, and offers some peace of mind so you’re not worrying about what you can’t see! If you’d like to know more about these detectors, click right HERE.

Remote Tire Monitoring

How many of y’all have had a flat, or tire losing pressure, and not realized it until it was too late? Maybe you couldn’t hear the flat over all the road noise, or couldn’t feel the pull because you’re running dual wheels or the RV had alignment issues already. It’s always an unexpected, unpleasant, and sometimes expensive option to have a flat when you least expect it. Not only does it mess up your schedule, but they always seem to happen when we’re wearing our good clothes too eh?

tire-minder-92-0397

Well I’ve got a solution for this problem! Tire Minder has a remote monitoring system that will report on tire conditions for up to 22 positions. For those of y’all who have bumper pull or fifth wheel travel trailers this system can be a real life saver. Who wants to go through an unexpected blow out on the trailer at interstate highway speeds? I reckon everybody has enough gray hair already, don’t you? Well this system not only will report pressure fluctuations, but it will also send an alert when any of the wheels reaches a temperature of above 167 degrees! This system also will update the readings every 4 minutes and performs self-diagnostics of the entire system every 5 seconds so you will know instantly when an issue arises at one of the wheels.

For those of you with boat trailers, car haulers, or those travel trailers and fifth wheels as well, this system allows for temporary disconnect and reconnect of the trailer from the tractor or truck monitoring system. The information is displayed on a large, easy-to-read screen located within easy reach. The controls are very intuitive and simple to operate as well. Especially when you’re hauling a trailer, I feel like this is one of those items where you are better safe than sorry, not only for yourself and your property but as well as contributing to the safety of everyone else who shares the road with you. For more information, click right HERE.

RV Fire Safety

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oliver.dodd/Flickr Creative Commons

How many of y’all have ever heard of the NFPA? NFPA stands for National Fire Prevention Association, and they are the folks who have established the code by which Recreational Vehicles are engineered, constructed, and inspected with respect to fire safety and prevention. The standard set by the NFPA is in the NFPA 1192 document. Where am I going with all this? Well, if these fire preventative measures have been incorporated when your RV was being drawn up by the engineers, the least we can do as end users is to be fire-wise when it comes to utilizing these awesome vehicles with our friends and families right? Today we’re going to talk about some common sense fire preventing things we can do to keep our vehicles safe, and our insurance low!

Most RV’s have some sort of food preparation devices, correct? Oven, stove, hot plate, coffee maker, something, right? Well the most obvious thing you need right there in sight and handy is a fire extinguisher! When you wander by it every now and then, check the little gauge to see if the pressure is holding up. They also have service dates printed, so check those occasionally as well. They’re pretty cheap to replace once they’ve gotten old, and a heck of a lot cheaper than replacing the RV!

We talked in the last blog about surge protectors, but in a fire prevention scenario they will help remove voltage induced overheating of your electrical appliances and keep you from pulling the trigger on on one of those shiny, red, fully charged, and up-to-date fire extinguishers we were just discussing!

Something that may not get thought about, especially in an RV where storage space is at a premium, is storing combustibles near the stove or oven. And I’m not talking spray paint cans or spare gas cans for the generator, y’all know better than that; I’m talking the sneaky combustible stuff like paper towels or shopping bags.

Some of the older travel trailers and RVs had heat detectors installed that rang fire bells. If you still have them, service them and keep them up to date as well as install more modern smoke detectors please! And check those batteries!

If you need smoke detectors, extinguishers, and the like, come see us at the website for all your accessories!

 

We Don’t Need No Stinking GPS!

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Patrick Barry/Flickr Creative Commons

It’s not often we get into philosophical discussions in this blog but by gum, we’re going to today! There seems to be a schism among travelers these days: those that can navigate with a traditional map, and those that absolutely cannot get out of their driveway without their smartphone or hand-held GPS. This tends to cause a fair amount of discussion amongst the two groups with both feeling superior to the other. The attitude of “We do it the right way” get’s bandied about from time to time, but let’s look at this in a practical terms.

MAPS

Maps are the oldest and most tried and true navigational aid in human history. Maps used to be so prized that map makers themselves warranted the highest respect, even the GPS crowd has heard of Magellan. But in today’s more immediate-result, instant-gratification, digital, and satellite-heavy technological world…maps are out of favor. And I think I know the reason why. In order to use a map you have to already know where you are. The downside to a map is: if you’re already lost, what good are they? Of course the map crowd’s rebuttal would be: if you have a map, how did you get lost? Using a map promotes situational awareness, keeping your eyes outside the vehicle, as well as the security that you know where you are, and how to get where you’re going.

GPS

GPS has to be one of the biggest advancements in navigation in history since the invention of the magnetic compass…as long as you have access to batteries or electricity. Putting a GPS in your smartphone was an incredible idea, so thank you to whomever’s idea that was. It is a more or less stress free form of navigation in that as soon as you turn it on, it tells you where you are. Routing however has been a little sketchy in the past and I suppose continues to be in some regard or other. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the following complaint “Man! Google Maps (or Mapquest, or insert your nav provider here) totally took me the long way around! The road wasn’t even paved!” So the irony is, to use the GPS in the most efficient way, you more or less need to be familiar with where you are and where you’re going. The awesome awesome awesome thing that GPS does in my opinion, is calculate distance and ETA for you.

So whichever camp you belong to, recognize that there is an alternative and learn the alternative as a backup to whatever method of navigation you are using. That was there is less fuel and time wasted, and your stress level stays low!

www.pplmotorhomes.com

 

When the RV Meets a Deer

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Patrick Feller/Flickr Creative Commons

Well folks, we are getting closer to deer season kicking off and that brings to mind a little understood type of road accident. What do you do when you hit a deer with your RV?

Well, I thought we could discuss that a little bit this morning as well as some statistics and hopefully this chat will help keep you folks from hitting any deer, and if you’re unfortunate enough to do so, at least you’ll know what to do next.

Texas is in the top ten states in the nation for vehicle/deer accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that there were about 1.25 million accidents in 2014 involving deer and  vehicles. 10,000 of those result in injuries to people, and on average 150 of those injuries are fatal. So what do we do?

To avoid deer, you’ve got to realize they’re out there moving around. They mostly seem to start moving at sunset and during the night. So be alert, drive slower when you can’t see as far or if the road you’re on is narrow, and use your high beams. If it is obvious that a collision between your vehicle and the deer is impossible to avoid, don’t swerve to minimize the risk to the deer, just brake and hold your wheel steady. This helps prevent uncontrollable skid, as well as departure from the road. Don’t put your family’s lives at risk to save the deer or your fenders.

If you do hit the deer:

  • Pull over in a safe area
  • Take some photos with your phone of the accident for claims purposes
  • Stay away from the deer
  • Call your insurance

Call the police if:

  • There are injuries
  • The deer is a hazard to other traffic
  • There is property damage

Hitting an animal that size can be a fairly traumatic experience, so please do not continue to drive until you have been able to calm down. People all react to accidents in different ways, so if you feel you are affected, grab a cup of coffee and wait for a little while.

www.PPLMotorhomes.com

Rest Stops: It’s Always A Good Idea To Stay Alert and Be Cautious

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AllieKF/Flickr Creative Commons

One of my customers came in the other day and told me a story about how he and his wife had stopped at a rest stop to stretch their legs and give their puppy a little break. He headed into the facilities and his wife walked the dog.  Sounds like something we have all done.

They returned to their RV and continued their drive.  A few minutes later his wife looked for her cell phone and couldn’t find it.  Of course, they  thought they had left it at the rest stop so, before turning around, they pulled over to do a more thorough search.  They were sure it had been dropped somewhere in the RV and was out of sight.  As they looked for it, she realized she couldn’t find her purse either.  I can only imagine the words in  their conversation at that point.  Is she losing her mind? She did not even recall taking either item out of the RV.  After looking more thoroughly, they realized their camera and a plastic cup full of change, two items normally kept in a basket on the dinette table, we’re missing too!  I bet you know where this story is going.  While they were both away from the RV, someone had slipped in and simply helped themselves.  They started calling credit card companies and their worst nightmare had become a reality.  They felt violated and their trip was ruined.

They now make it a point to share this experience with others.  A few precautionary measures could have saved them headaches and this trip would have been a great memory instead of a horrible nightmare.  Yes, they still RV and love the lifestyle and that is probably not going to change.  What is changing is that they now  take time to lock doors and keep them locked.  This is something to think about when you are camping at a campground, too!  Yes, we do meet the nicest people when we are RVing, but it doesn’t hurt to be cautious.  Unfortunately, whether you are at home or in your home away from home…everyone is not always honest and we must keep safety in mind.

If you have a story that you think might help your fellow RVers, please share it with me.  In the meantime, have fun and make memories!

Mental Diversions On Long Road Trips

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Angus MacRae/Flickr Creative Commons

Let’s face it: the RV life is a grand one, but even the most gung-ho of us experience that creeping boredom on a long trip. Especially on those long road trips over routes we’ve traveled many times. How many times can you ask yourself, “Hey, isn’t that restaurant new?” or “WHEN are they going to finish working on that exit?” before you just couldn’t care less? With the advent of smart phones, surfing the net becomes a very dangerous yet alluring distraction. Your passenger will fuss at you and your stock response of “I’m just using the map” doesn’t make it any less dangerous, so today I thought we could talk about how to keep your mind occupied while the long straight road whizzes by.

If you’re driving by yourself and you can’t find anything good on the FM, don’t forget there is an AM side! You can hear some of the coolest local radio shows on the AM dial and it’ll really give you a taste or flavor of the region. I remember driving through the painted desert portion of AZ on I-40 heading for New Mexico and hearing the Navajo Radio station on 660. It was so interesting to hear the Navajo language spoken and hear the English words scattered throughout…for example, George Strait in Navajo is: George Strait.

All those old-school road trip games will come into play as well, but we’ve covered those in previous blogs. So a newer suggestion is to do Road Math! For example let’s say you’re in Eastern New Mexico on Hwy 285, add up the numbers 2, 8, and 5 and you get 10. Diesel costs $3.27? Add it up! You get 12! A tractor trailer goes by with the ID# 25703, it adds up to 17. It really works well when you start to get a little tired and dozy in the heat.

Dealing With Road Rage

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Dan Zen/Flickr Creative Commons

As RVers I’m sure you’ve found yourself in that situation where you’re trying to merge or pull out into traffic and folks either won’t let you in, or you’re not moving fast enough for somebody and they try to zip around you. Nobody realizes more than you do that you’re bigger, heavier, less maneuverable, and accelerate slower than the cars and SUVs around you but they still have to behave like spoiled children in order to ensure you understand their displeasure. So I thought today we could discuss ways to maintain your composure and enjoyment of road life in the face of other’s impatience, discourtesy, and dangerous driving.

First impulse when confronted with another driver’s aggressive driving is meet aggression with aggression, sometimes in the form of angrily shouting curses at the back of their car and secretly hoping a cop is going to chase them down and hit them with heavy fines, or maybe dreaming that that they’ll pick up nails in more than one tire to pay them back for being such a jerk to you and all the other drivers that have had to share the road with them today. But here’s the thing y’all, driving an RV in today’s cell phone addicted world is stressful enough without allowing that sort of frustration and anger into the RV. To some of you folks it may sound childish or even weak, but the ability to shrug your shoulders and not let a jerk turn you into a jerk is actually pretty powerful.

So here’s what you do…take a DEEP breath and imagine situations that would justify someone driving like an ass. Maybe that guy is a father who’s child has just been taken to the hospital and he’s trying to get there as quick as he can. Maybe that woman is a mother who has just been laid off and is distraught and thinking more about how she is going to pay her family’s rent in there new found jobless situation. There are any number of situations of an emergency or stressful situations that could justify erratic driving if only you knew the whole story. So instead of pounding the steering wheel and working your way towards a stroke, think of these situations that would allow for bad driving and become sympathetic to their plight. NONE of what you imagine may be true, they may just be a real ass, but the main thing is it will release your anger and keep your RV a happy place even when you’re surrounded by selfish drivers!

www.pplmotorhomes.com