What Are Safe RV Towing Speeds?
There’s a lot to know when it comes to RV towing. Whether you’re towing a bumper-pull or fifth wheel with a truck, or you’re pulling a little tow car behind a motorhome, knowing the ropes before you hit the road is important. Weight limits, how to hitch up, and how to avoid low-clearance bridges are some of the things newbies need to know.
Another biggie? Safe RV towing speeds.
How fast you’re going can completely change how things go should a high wind catch you by surprise, or should somebody cut you off. Therefore, learning about safe RV towing speeds should be at the top of your list before your first trip.
Lucky for you, that’s exactly what we’re going to discuss below.
How fast can I go when towing or driving an RV?
Let’s jump right in by answering that burning question: How fast can you safely go while towing or driving an RV? Honestly, the answer to this depends on a lot of factors.
In ideal conditions and barring any local speed limits saying otherwise, the fastest you should find yourself towing a bumper-pull, fifth wheel, or car on a dolly or trailer is between 55 and 60 mph, and many choose to keep the speedometer around 50. Meanwhile, most experts recommend you never flat tow a car faster than 55 mph.
Driving a motorhome without a tow car? In that case, you can probably go a little faster, but 60 to 65 mph should still be your max speed.
Why do I need to drive my RV slowly?
Wondering why you need to drive slower in an RV? There are actually several reasons why slower RV towing speeds are safer.
Stopping a big vehicle takes more time
The bigger your rig is, the heavier it is, and the heavier your rig is, the longer it will take to stop. Driving faster makes it even more difficult to stop quickly, meaning a slow driver is going to be much better off should traffic come to a sudden halt.
Turning a big rig is more difficult
Turning an RV takes some getting used to. It requires that you swing wide and calculate things just right. This is much easier to do if you give yourself time to think and take your turns slowly. Not only will this help you ensure you get those turns right, it’ll also reduce the amount of damage you do if you get one wrong.
Going too fast can cause sway
When towing a bumper-pull or a car on a trailer, driving fast can lead to the trailer swaying back and forth. If this sway gets too rough, it can actually take control of your vehicle, swinging you back and forth, and potentially even causing your tow vehicle to spin.
Obviously, this is very dangerous and is something you want to prevent. Driving slowly is one of the best ways to prevent sway.
Driving uphill too fast can cause engine damage
Planning on driving through the mountains? Plan to go slow. Attempting to drive a big rig uphill fast can cause damage to the engine of your vehicle, leading to costly repairs and leaving you stranded on the side of the road.
When should you slow down in an RV?
Not only should you stick to the speeds mentioned above in ideal conditions, there are actually other factors that can require you to slow down even more. Pay attention when RV towing, and if one or more of these factors come into play, adjust your speed accordingly.
Lower legal speed limit
Obviously, you do have to mind the legal speed limits in any given area. Watch for truck-specific speed limits, as these apply to RVs as well. Additionally, know that some states have speed limits that apply specifically to those who are towing, so be sure to look up these limits before hitting the road.
Windy conditions can be extremely dangerous, especially for tall, top-heavy RVs. If you feel your trailer swaying in the wind, or if the wind feels like it’s causing your motorhome to be out of control, slow down. Still an issue? Stop and stay put until the windy weather passes.
Another weather issue that can make driving an RV unsafe is rain or fog that causes poor visibility. If you’re finding it difficult to see while driving your RV, slow down and turn on your headlights. Depending on the situation, you might even consider pulling over until things clear up.
As mentioned above, driving fast up an incline can cause damage to your vehicle. Not only that, many trucks and motorhomes simply won’t be able to pull all that weight uphill even if you tried to gun it.
Plan to slow down on inclines, and know that your travel day will likely be longer than your GPS predicts. (As longtime RVers well know, it usually is anyway).
Other RV towing tips
Now that you know how what you can expect in terms of RV towing speeds, let’s touch on a few other RV towing tips.
Know your weight limits
First, make sure you know how much weight your RV can hold, how much your truck can tow, and the other weight limits of your rig. Watch the weight of your setup and make sure you stay well within these limits.
Invest in towing mirrors
If you’re towing a fifth wheel or bumper-pull, you will likely want to invest in special towing mirrors for your truck. These will help ensure you can see beside and behind your rig while towing.
Ensure you have trailer brakes
Trailer brakes are incredibly important. If you don’t have them, get some. Make sure they are installed and calibrated correctly, and know how to use them in case of emergency.
Never ride in a trailer or towed vehicle
We’d also like to remind you that people and pets should never ride in a trailer or towed vehicle. Doing so is extremely dangerous and not worth the hazard it poses.
Use an RV-safe GPS
Driving or towing an RV is different. You can’t drive as far, as long, or as fast. Knowing where you need to stop at the end of the day is a challenge, unless you have RV LIFE Trip Wizard. The unique Driving Radius provided by RV LIFE Trip Wizard shows you exactly where to stop and find a campground or RV park, based on criteria you have set. Plan ahead, plan smart, and know exactly where to stop.