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Open Roads Forum  >  Class A Motorhomes  >  General Topics

 > Safety concerns and crash data for Class A's?

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Wilmington NC

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Posted: 01/25/19 07:01am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

It is a legitimate and genuine concern. If you are going to make crash worthiness part of your criteria don't look at a class A - unless it's a Prevost or converted bus. Despite the lack of crash testing, in the event of a roll over or side impact the house will do very little to protect occupants - probably worse and simply collapse. I think the "safest" drivable Rv would be a Super C. You get the advantage of height, plus a large diesel engine in front of you. Not cheap and not as readily available but they are out there. As others have stated it's not just the crash itself and the RV, it's the tons of stuff in the RV that become missiles - dishes, cabinets, microwave, TV's. You are driving an apartment, imagine crashing an apartment - with up to 100 gallons of fuel and propane on board.



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Posted: 01/25/19 07:48am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I know it was a cost consideration as much as anything else, but, didn't the front of A's get weaker when they removed the additional framing for front doors?
M'lady has concerns over not having a door there for egress, And the lack of more than one exit concerns her. (and no, climbing out a window six+ feet above the ground doesn't allay that fear)


Out West and Mid South

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Posted: 01/25/19 07:53am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

A while back someone pointed out the disadvantage of having airbags in a coach. It made sense to me. Also, the steering wheel is more in a flat position, not really angled towards the driver like a car.

If you are in an accident in a coach, you don't stop on a dime like a car would. The large heavy coach will keep moving probably for at least 100 ft. (depends on the accident). If an airbag system were to deploy, you could lose control as you can't see and/or you might not be able keep your hands on the steering wheel. Can you imagine how big of an airbag would be on a coach?

The most important thing is to be buckled in and keep flying objects battened down.

One of the best safety features that we have on our coach is the Prevost Aware System. It will warns the driver if the car in front is going slower than you, it will apply the retarder (heavily) if I don't slow down.

We have a beam in the center of the windshield. Although a Pana-View windshield is nice, I feel the beam will keep the integrity of the coach intact.

Safe driving is your best friend but there are certainly things out of our control, luck has a lot to do with it.

Good luck,


2015 Prevost Liberty Coach, 45 ft, 500 hp Volvo w/1,750 lb. ft. of torque, 1.5 baths, 4 slides.
2017 Lincoln MKX AWD V6 335 hp twin turbo.


Varies with weather

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Posted: 01/25/19 08:31am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I saved this article for personal reasons. From Friday, April 25, 2008 and link is now dead.


(However best I can tell nothing has changed and info still correct).

RV Crash Deaths Under Investigation
Lack Of Crash Tests For Luxury Motor Homes Blamed
Braking problems, collapsing walls and poorly secured cabinets: These are the RV industry's deadliest secrets.

We know because KIRO Team 7 Investigators just spent months analyzing hundreds of fatal luxury motor home crashes both nationwide and here in the Pacific Northwest.

Investigative Reporter Chris Halsne exposes how some loose safety standards are turning fun, family camping outings into trips to the morgue.

Federal law requires crash and rollover tests for cars, SUVs, semi-trucks and even charter buses. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration just conducted a new series of bus tests last month. The explosion of glass and crunch of metal are tools that guide new safety improvement.

Why, then, did KIRO Team 7 Investigators discover some of the biggest, most expensive motor homes on the road are exempt?
Peggy and Richard Young loved to camp in their motor home, often taking their dog Mitzy to favorite spots along Washington's beach-front state parks.

On the way home one day in 2005, Richard took the corner of a highway onramp a little fast and tipped the RV over. It crumpled--trapping him inside.

Halsne: "We're looking at structural integrity. It looks to me ..."
Peggy Young: "It was a mess wasn't it?"
Halsne: "That the roof just didn't hold up."
Peggy Young: "No! All it is, is fiberglass. These motor homes are only fiberglass. They had the wood framing, you know, thin wood framing, but they're just fiberglass. There's nothing there to keep anything like this from happening."

Richard came out of the low-speed flip-and-roll with a brain bleed. He died 11 days later. Peggy just couldn't believe how easily their Class A RV fell apart and still wonders if a few simple safety standards could have saved his life.

Peggy Young: "They have some incredibly strong materials now, very high-tech and I don't see why they couldn't put in some kind of reinforcement that goes across and around?"

KIRO Team 7 Investigators used a computer to analyze two federal databases filled with more than 5,000 RV accident, safety and mechanical deficiency reports. Summaries like:

made the Class A motor home stand out -- and not in a good way.
Class A's are defined by their flat-nose front, open seating and tremendous length.

JD Gallant has been called the Ralph Nader of motor homes. He has investigated countless fatal RV crashes and authors a top-selling RV consumer buying guide. He has strong opinions regarding the safety of the Class A.

“You need to realize that when you drive a Class A motor home, in case of an accident, you've increased greatly your risk of death, the driver and the passenger,” said Gallant.

He says the government should start mandating front-end crash tests and stronger rollover protections if we want people to stop dying in these massive machines.

"We know from accidents, Chris, what's happening. The industry isn't into studying Class A accidents. They just aren't into it. If they did, if RVIA (Recreation Vehicle Industry Association) would study Class A accidents, every Class A accident, put them up on the wall and study these Class A accidents, and say 'oh we've got to make improvement here.' They could do it. And they'd reduce the deaths by 80 to 90 percent,” said Gallant.

We called numerous RV manufacturers to respond to this investigation. Only one took us up on our offer: Western RV in Yakima, the maker of the $250,000 Alpine Coach.

Vice President Burk Morgan says his company sells safety.
He adds that the government requires front-end crash and brake tests for the empty chassis only. Once all those studs and sidewalls and TVs get installed, it's up to each manufacturer to decide how best to hold parts together in a crash. Our data shows the Alpine Coach design does hold up exceptionally well.

Morgan says there’s a reason for that.
"The entire roof and walls are solid structures. They're all aircraft-quality aluminum tub-welded frame with polystyrene block insulation that's bonded together to create a solid structure,” said Morgan.
Consumers might not yet be ready to pay extra for those safety features, as two weeks after we shot the interview, Western RV closed its doors.

Automotive safety engineer Keith Friedman of Friedman Research Corporation says the costs of added safety measures are the real reason many RV makers are still choosing to use antiquated construction techniques.

"Put a steel platform out there. Put some wood on it and start nailing wood two-by-fours to it or screwing on some aluminum studs. Those things are not going to carry the loads when you rollover. The platform is going to sit there and the stuff you attached on top is just going to fall over," said Friedman.

Lifelong RV owner John Sandstrom isn't going to let that happen to him.

"It's big. It weighs a lot. You can easily get yourself in trouble, whether maneuvering in a parking lot or changing lanes on the freeway, you have to be aware of what's going on 360 degrees around you," said Sandstrom.
Sandstrom recently paid top dollar for custom-designed safety features including a third set of wheels for stability, steel rollcage ribbing and a bulkhead behind his seat that prevents flying objects from hitting drivers if a crash does occur. That's something that the families of several dead RV drivers tell us they dearly wish was standard.

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association had this to say about our research:

"NHTSA (The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) hasn't crash tested finished motor homes because they are fundamentally safe-- there simply haven't been enough deaths to warrant the cost of purchasing and testing these types of vehicles."


northern, California

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Posted: 01/25/19 08:46am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

path1 wrote:

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association had this to say about our research:

"NHTSA (The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) hasn't crash tested finished motor homes because they are fundamentally safe-- there simply haven't been enough deaths to warrant the cost of purchasing and testing these types of vehicles."

This sums it up for me too. further crash testing and safety measures would be increased cost for a tiny benefit.

It's how we end up with things like mandatory rear view cameras, TPMS and noise makers in EV's lol.

2004 Fleetwood Tioga 29v



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Posted: 01/25/19 02:20pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Not long ago, there was a terrible accident, in Florida I think, in which an elderly gentleman in a large class A drove the wrong direction on the freeway and hit an SUV head-on. Both girls in the SUV were killed while the elderly gent (and his wife) walked away. As was said earlier in this thread, the class A occupants were "above" the main impact point. So there is some truth to that idea, and in this case the higher "crash-worthiness" of the SUV was irrelevant.

In a rollover... neither (A nor C) will fare well, although the C may do a bit better. In a head-on...I think I like my chances in my A at least as well as in my previous C, perhaps moreso. If crash-worthiness is a significant factor in your RV choice, then I suggest you get a late model truck and a trailer, either bumper pull or 5er.

We don't stop playing because we grow old...We grow old because we stop playing!

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Two Jayhawks

Lenexa Kansas

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Posted: 01/25/19 02:41pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have safety concerns as well about motorhomes I always have. However I'm still enjoying RVing. I don't think about safety when I'm driving my car but I sure do when driving the coach. My concerns keep me from driving faster than 60-65 mph, pushed me to using a TPMS, avoid major metro areas at peak times, etc. There is a lot one can do to minimize your exposure to an unsafe situation. But if a more crash worthy vehicle is what you seek both bus conversions & truck conversions will likely hold up better in an accident.

Bill & Kelli
2015 DSDP 4366 pulling a 2014 Ford Edge
2002 Safari Zanzibar 3906 gone
1995 Fleetwood Bounder 36JD gone

Rick Jay

Greater Springfield area, MA

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Posted: 01/26/19 08:53am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator


Here's a link to a Forum Post I made a little while ago explaining why you DO NOT WANT air bags on a large vehicle.

The bottom line is I feel safer driving my Class A gasser than any other passenger vehicle on the road. In a collision, mass is your friend. I have confidence in my driving ability and I am a very defensive driver.

The safety issue of Class A's is pretty much a "non-issue" in my opinion.

Buy what you want because it FITS your intended needs. Drive safely and ENJOY LIFE! :-)


2005 Georgie Boy Cruise Master 3625 DS on a Workhorse W-22
Rick, Gail, 1 girl (22-Angel, Lexi96.org), 1 girl (17), 2 boys (19 & 16).
2001 Honda Odyssey, Demco Aluminator tow bar & tow plate, SMI Silent Partner brake controller.

Mile High


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Posted: 01/26/19 09:12am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I've never considered the Class A to be very safe. It isn't the head-on that worries me as much as laying it down and then hitting something stationary like a guard rail or bridge.

I've also never considered the Boeing 737 I climb into every week to commute for work very survivable in a crash either, but I still do it for some reason.

2013 Winnebago Itasca Meridian 42E
2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara Towed

Cloud Dancer

San Antonio and Livingston TX USA

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Posted: 01/26/19 09:25am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I'm not bragging on my ole Dutch Star. However, I will say that it's got one of the best safety features I've ever seen,....in the mirror I see myself..[emoticon]..[emoticon]
I've learned that a good/safe driver does not depend on fast reflexes. Most human reflexes are about the same. IMO safe drivers have the safe procedures already programmed in their brain. They immediately start the proper procedure automatically. I learned this from lots of experience driving fast racecars, and flying high performance jet aircraft.
In a motorhome IMO a controlled glancing blow is more survivable than a head-on crash.

Willie & Betty Sue
Miko & Sparky
2003 41 ft Dutch Star Diesel Pusher/Spartan
Floorplan 4010
Blazer toad & Ranger bassboat

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