Driving An RV. How Old Is Too Old?
A Lug_Nut pondering thought. A while ago, while staying in an RV resort, I got to thinking about the aging population. Of those that enjoy RVing today many are in the upper middle age group. This is particularly true when looking at the people that own larger RV’s like motor homes and 5th wheel trailers combinations. Despite the average age of people that own RV’s in the U.S. being in the mid forties, one must realize that RV;s include everything from a tent trailer and up.
In the larger class of both motor homes and trailers there are many owners that are 65 years old and older. This may be partially due to the cost of some of these rigs. For the investment required, the average working person could not possibly reap enough benefits from it given the available free time their job may offer. Then of course there is the affordability. Life is backwards, by the time you can afford what you want, you are too old to enjoy it. Well, that may fit most cases, but with an RV that may not hold true.
So, how old is too old to operate a motor home or trailer combination? There is no correct answer. There is a time when one must quit. This time is when one may become either physically or mentally unable to operate their vehicle in a safe manner for all concerned. This does not only affect aging drivers, but applies to all. But, we will look at those that are caused by age.
What actually causes this to happen to an otherwise healthy senior citizen? His eye sight is good, or at least with corrected lenses. He knows the basic rules of the road. Oh sure, his reactions may be a little slower than when he was 20, but he has a tendency to drive slower, leave more room behind the car ahead and generally drives more defensive now compared to then. That off-set, in many cases, may make up for any hesitation in responsive reaction time.
Do people lose there driving skills at some stage with age? Is the old saying, “You never forget how to ride a bicycle”, wrong? So why then, do aging drivers have to hang up their keys?
No, they don’t lose their driving skills, or their driving co-ordination, or their peripheral vision, but they do lose something that they once had. Something that is needed in many areas throughout one’s lifetime, that need is confidence. Without a reasonable amount of confidence it becomes difficult to operate even a car in today’s traffic, much less a large vehicle or tow combination.
The loss of confidence, in many things, seems to come with aging. Additional pressures are present when a driver errs or an accident occurs. If observers see an old grey hair back into a post while backing his rig in a campground, it is assumed it was due to the driver’s age. But, just as many younger people in their 20, 30 or 40’s do the same thing. Oh well, accidents happen, the post was in a blind spot, etc, every excuse in the book for younger folk but not for the aged.
So, for many of us, keeping our confidence in operating an RV may be pretty important in the future. While regaining lost confidence may be difficult to near impossible, maintaining it may not be. To accomplish this, it may be best to look at some of the steps of this progression.
As a person gets in their retirement years they tend to avoid heavily trafficked roadways and areas. Their annual driving distances are generally substantially reduced. Night driving in many cases becomes almost non-existent. A minor accident or improper lane change event is accepted and blamed on their age. They seem far more nervous than when they were younger, partially due to a more realistic realization of the consequences of their actions.
The first obvious thing to do is to practice or use your RV more frequently. Include driving in those heavier traffic areas, even if it is only in your car. Providing your eyesight is normal and without any issues that would adversely affect it, do a little night driving from time to time. You did it when you were younger, nothing much has changed since. If you make an error driving, learn from it, it probably didn’t ruin your day when you were in your 20’s, so don’t let it now. Realize, if you have an accident or scrape your vehicle, it is not because you are old, it’s because you made an error. Get over it and don’t repeat it again. Realizing the consequences of your actions while driving is probably good, but those consequences have not changed much over all those years, only your perception of them. There are risks associated with many things in life, you learned to deal with them before, just keep doing that.
Well, hopefully you will be RV’ing until you are in your 90’s. I have a friend that is in his 80’s, owns two motor homes, a Prevost and a restored GMAC. He uses both frequently and travels each year to Florida. He is, in my opinion, as good a driver as the average 40 year old, so it’s really not about how old you are. And yes, he is both a competent and a confident driver.
Now, there is one other thing you need to do. Continue driving if you feel you are capable of doing so safely. Keep an open mind with your spouse, significant other, or close friends should they feel the need to discuss your driving. If you or they feel you should hang up your keys temporarily or permanently, you should. There are many forms of denial that can be best observed by loved ones or your close friends. It does not necessarily mean your RV days are over. Many people have their wife, son or other family members drive the rig to a selected destination each year. They learn too, to love that lifestyle also.
Confidentially Yours - Lug_Nut - Peter Mercer
NOTE: The assumptions and suggestions herein are based solely on my experiences and observations and are presented as food for thought. Driving in busy areas or at night may not be wise for some individuals. Driving is a privilege, not a right. Please exercise this privilege only if you are capable to do so safely.