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Old 08-17-2014, 02:04 PM   #1
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Safety: Learning from Incidents, Accidents & Crashes

We constantly discuss towing safety concerns here: tow vehicles, hitches, tires, various accessories, etc. - and rightfully so. The idea of endangering someone else on the road is of great concern to me and I'm sure to us all. However, the discussions often quickly stray from the empirical into personal opinion. Perhaps the ultimate measure of safety is how often or how rarely there are incidents, accidents and crashes.

The FAA investigates accidents involving airplanes exhaustively in order to determine their causes and to prevent them from happening in the future. As far as I know, there is no investigation of RV accidents. I'm not sure where to even find statistics on how often they occur and what the major causes are. My thought is that we could try and document as many incidents involving Airstreams here as possible so we can all learn from them.

I'm going to do some research and start posting links here. Here's a recent one:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f48/...ay-124057.html

It would be great if others could do the same. It's not for the sake of voyeurism, it's so we can all learn moe about safety on the road.

Thanks,
Poppy
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Old 08-17-2014, 02:57 PM   #2
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RV accidents would be investigated thoroughly should they involve a fatality. The fact that you mention they are not is a good thing. Most common MVA's are reported to the best ability of the officers that are dispatched. They record the information and diagram the final resting places of the vehicles as they see it. A full investigation is very time consuming and expensive, requiring many hours by investigators that have been trained in MVA reconstruction. If you could search I would bet there have been some that needed the full investigation. The State Police here in NJ have a commercial vehicle unit that does a fine job of investigating serious accidents. Even those not involving a fatality. Like RV's the large trucks require some special expertese as would some RV's.
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Old 08-17-2014, 04:02 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Birdmaestro View Post
We constantly discuss towing safety concerns here: tow vehicles, hitches, tires, various accessories, etc. - and rightfully so. The idea of endangering someone else on the road is of great concern to me and I'm sure to us all. However, the discussions often quickly stray from the empirical into personal opinion. Perhaps the ultimate measure of safety is how often or how rarely there are incidents, accidents and crashes.

The FAA investigates accidents involving airplanes exhaustively in order to determine their causes and to prevent them from happening in the future. As far as I know, there is no investigation of RV accidents. I'm not sure where to even find statistics on how often they occur and what the major causes are. My thought is that we could try and document as many incidents involving Airstreams here as possible so we can all learn from them.

I'm going to do some research and start posting links here. Here's a recent one:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f48/...ay-124057.html

It would be great if others could do the same. It's not for the sake of voyeurism, it's so we can all learn moe about safety on the road.

Thanks,
Poppy
Poppy.

The insurance division of Airstream, Caravanner Insurance Company, had me do many research tests in the early 70's. Airstream originally said that finding the cause of a loss of control accident was impossible.

After a very few short months, they were presented with some data, that indeed proved the cause of many loss of control accidents.

The cause of loss of control accidents was deemed impossible.

Yet, we proved over 85 percent of them.

That allowed us (Caravanner Insurance) to predict when someone was a statistic, waiting to happen.

After about 6 months of that research, we prepared a series of 12 questions that was sent to the owner that lost control.

We then would review the data that they sent back to us, and WOW, only 85 percent repeated time and time again.

I have many times tried to help owners with that information, and interesting enough, all too may people would say "that's old information that today is useless".

Very interesting that those owners willingly kicked PHYSICS TO THE CURB and want to argue.

I have invited others to do the research, including hitch manufacturers, and they all say the same thing, "LET SOMONE ELSE DO IT".

I have personally investigated over 1000 loss of control accidents involving Airstream trailers.

Since I do not travel anymore, I wonder why so many loss of control accidents occur, and people still say, "YOU CANNOT PROVE IT", or send then copies of the research data.

I do not have that data as it belonged to Caravanner, but I still have that knowledge in my brain.

If someone wants to listen, fine, but arguing is not my cup of tea.

Andy
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Old 08-17-2014, 05:37 PM   #4
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Here's a link to Paula's (Foiled Again) account of her rollover June, 2013:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f161...ml#post1313059

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Old 08-17-2014, 05:52 PM   #5
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Andy here on the forums worked for AS insurance co. He has lots of info, but ut might be out of date. Usually when he makes statements backed by facts the experts here on the forums just want to argue. That's just us I guess. Jim
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Old 08-17-2014, 05:52 PM   #6
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Links to members mentioning AS accidents:

Rollover of a 30 footer:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f161...ml#post1314546

Unidentified TV/trailer in 2010:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f161...ml#post1315153

I've just started doing some research and I'm surprised to find these so quickly.

Poppy
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Old 08-17-2014, 06:09 PM   #7
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2006 Rollover South of Shasta
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f351...nce-28912.html

Thread from 2003:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f42/...over-4294.html

This is rapidly becoming a scary and depressing topic - sorry. But there's also some great information. The second thread above cites many accidents but also contains many good safety tips.

Poppy
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Old 08-17-2014, 07:02 PM   #8
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Why limited to Airstreams? I'm sure there are plenty of Travel Trailer accidents every year.

I'd also like to point out that in science, correlation does not imply causation.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correl...mply_causation
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Old 08-17-2014, 07:30 PM   #9
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I'm concentrating on Airstreams because this is an Airstreams forum.

What I'm most interested in is the particulars of accidents - why they happened. Which can lead to better understanding of how to prevent them. I've personally learned *a lot* already in the brief research I have done today, particularly safety pointers. I've had professional training in racing Porsches on the track and I know how valuable it is. Unlike towing, you can't race without it. But I have never had professional training in towing. I would love to see this thread segue into a discussion about safety. For example:

Someone pulls in front if you and stops abruptly. In the fraction of a second that you have to react, how do you prioritize these actions?
1. Brake hard
2. Look for an open hole you can swerve into?
3. Hit them
4. Or a combination

A deer appears in the roadway at night. Do you:
1. Brake hard
2. Swerve
3. Honk
4. Hit it
5. Or a combination

If your trailer starts to sway badly, do you:
1. Brake
2. Accelerate
3. Turn up the brake controller
4. Or a combination

Do you take your trailer out to deserted areas and practice emergency maneuvers, such as swerving and hard braking?

I'm ashamed to say that I didn't know the answers to all of these questions when today begin. Based on the reading I have done today of the experiences of others, I think I do now. At least on a book-learning level - now I need to go practice them.

Poppy
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Old 08-17-2014, 07:40 PM   #10
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Andy...

I for one very much want to listen. Can you do a brain dump for us?

Thanks,
Poppy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In View Post
Poppy.

The insurance division of Airstream, Caravanner Insurance Company, had me do many research tests in the early 70's. Airstream originally said that finding the cause of a loss of control accident was impossible.

After a very few short months, they were presented with some data, that indeed proved the cause of many loss of control accidents.

The cause of loss of control accidents was deemed impossible.

Yet, we proved over 85 percent of them.

That allowed us (Caravanner Insurance) to predict when someone was a statistic, waiting to happen.

After about 6 months of that research, we prepared a series of 12 questions that was sent to the owner that lost control.

We then would review the data that they sent back to us, and WOW, only 85 percent repeated time and time again.

I have many times tried to help owners with that information, and interesting enough, all too may people would say "that's old information that today is useless".

Very interesting that those owners willingly kicked PHYSICS TO THE CURB and want to argue.

I have invited others to do the research, including hitch manufacturers, and they all say the same thing, "LET SOMONE ELSE DO IT".

I have personally investigated over 1000 loss of control accidents involving Airstream trailers.

Since I do not travel anymore, I wonder why so many loss of control accidents occur, and people still say, "YOU CANNOT PROVE IT", or send then copies of the research data.

I do not have that data as it belonged to Caravanner, but I still have that knowledge in my brain.

If someone wants to listen, fine, but arguing is not my cup of tea.

Andy
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Old 08-17-2014, 10:52 PM   #11
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My opinions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Birdmaestro View Post
I'm concentrating on Airstreams because this is an Airstreams forum.

What I'm most interested in is the particulars of accidents - why they happened. Which can lead to better understanding of how to prevent them. I've personally learned *a lot* already in the brief research I have done today, particularly safety pointers. I've had professional training in racing Porsches on the track and I know how valuable it is. Unlike towing, you can't race without it. But I have never had professional training in towing. I would love to see this thread segue into a discussion about safety. For example:

Someone pulls in front if you and stops abruptly. In the fraction of a second that you have to react, how do you prioritize these actions?
1. Brake hard I would brake hard.
2. Look for an open hole you can swerve into? Swerving could cause you to hit someone else besides who caused the problem. And for you to be the cause. Or you to be a single vehicle accident.
3. Hit them You might have no choice other than to hit them.
4. Or a combination

A deer appears in the roadway at night. Do you:
1. Brake hard Brake hard and honk your horn; You still might hit it.
2. Swerve
3. Honk
4. Hit it
5. Or a combination

If your trailer starts to sway badly, do you:
1. Brake
2. Accelerate
3. Turn up the brake controller Manually hit your trailer brakes first, then slow down.
4. Or a combination

Do you take your trailer out to deserted areas and practice emergency maneuvers, such as swerving and hard braking?
No I wouldn't do this; You might just lose control and roll your trailer trying this. [or jackknife it]

I'm ashamed to say that I didn't know the answers to all of these questions when today begin. Based on the reading I have done today of the experiences of others, I think I do now. At least on a book-learning level - now I need to go practice them.

Poppy
Hi, I believe from what I have read, that most of these accidents were driver error; Some admitted later and others pacified by blaming the hitch. Some who blamed the hitch, or bought a different brand hitch later, never mentioned trailer sway during the accident.
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Old 08-17-2014, 11:34 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Birdmaestro View Post
This is rapidly becoming a scary and depressing topic - sorry.
I actually feel differently. We have thousands of members on this forum, and in over ten years we have had very few accidents reported. There will always be some - driver error, rig setup, weather, other drivers, equipment failure. Accidents happen, but I don't feel a need to dwell on it. The vast majority of RVers have uneventful trips.

Take care of your equipment, get it setup right, and drive safe and sane when you are out there, and hope everyone around you does the same.
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Old 08-18-2014, 12:01 AM   #13
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There is no single answer to any of those multiple choice questions because ironically enough, every situation is situational.

The best action when confronted with a potential accident is to avoid the accident all together, if this isn't possible, it is important to be in a position to choose the best bad option.

I have read some of the opinions on what to do as listed on some of the above links. I do not agree with all of them. Do not brake before an accident? Please, that is just ridiculous. A time to brake is an opportunity to mitigate the force of impact.
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Old 08-18-2014, 12:33 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In View Post
That allowed us (Caravanner Insurance) to predict when someone was a statistic, waiting to happen.

After about 6 months of that research, we prepared a series of 12 questions that was sent to the owner that lost control.

I have personally investigated over 1000 loss of control accidents involving Airstream trailers.

If someone wants to listen, fine, but arguing is not my cup of tea.
First off. I don't want to argue with you about your data. What I do want to do is to learn.

PLEASE share your information with us. I would love to take your 12-question test. I think other forum members would too. Would you be willing to share that with us as well?

What conclusions have you drawn from the 1000 accidents that you studied? I think we all are willing to take a free opportunity to see what behaviors we might change in order to travel more safely with our trailers.
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Old 08-18-2014, 12:41 AM   #15
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Incidents, Accidents & Crashes

My bet is where all RV trailer accidents involving property damage are considered, backing accidents will rank first, turning accidents will be second, and overhead obstructions will be third, with dramatic highway accidents being quite a bit less frequent than the former.

Few people will commit their silly little low speed but humiliating incidents to internet posterity....
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Old 08-18-2014, 06:02 AM   #16
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Andy,
We would also be very interested in either the 12 questions or some of your findings regarding accidents. You can never have too much information.
Thank you so much.
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Old 08-18-2014, 06:49 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In View Post
Since I do not travel anymore, I wonder why so many loss of control accidents occur, and people still say, "YOU CANNOT PROVE IT", or send then copies of the research data.
As a safety coordinator for my division at work, I have also received training as an accident investigator. Not for trailer towing, but for workplace accidents— including the investigation of two fatalities to date.

One thing that is banged into our skulls during the training, and it is proven empirically in EVERY investigation, is that there is NEVER just one cause for an accident. There are always at least TWO causes. One cause is always an unsafe act. The other cause is either an unsafe condition or another unsafe act, often by a different person.

Another thing that is emphasized is that most people involved in the accident cannot tell what the causes are. They mistake the accident itself as a cause, and then they're stuck.

Plucking an example out of the air because I personally witnessed one just like it at a campground that will remain unnamed (It was an SOB trailer besides, not anybody's here on the Forums)… The person who had the accident said to the insurance investigator that the cause of the acccident was, "I backed into a tree." No, that's NOT a cause; that's an effect. He should have asked himself, "Why did I back into the tree?" And when he answered, "I didn't know the tree had low-hanging branches," he'd have to ask himself, "Why didn't I know?" And so on, until he got to the true root cause, which might be, "I didn't get out and look before trying to back into the space." THAT is the unsafe act that is the proximate cause.

But there's still another cause beyond that, which already existed BEFORE his unsafe act, and which in this case we've already mentioned in passing, "The tree has limbs that hang lower than the roof of the trailer." That would be the unsafe condition. The trailer owner didn't cause the limbs to be low; they just were. But if the limbs hadn't been low, his failure to get out and check clearances wouldn't have led to an accident.

Most of us commit unsafe acts every day, and get away with it with no harm done, and that makes us complacent. It's only when that unsafe act occurs at the same time there's an unsafe condition already in place, or when someone else commits an unsafe act in the same place, that those routine unsafe acts lead to an accident.
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Old 08-18-2014, 07:43 AM   #18
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Very concise explanation, thanks!
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Old 08-18-2014, 08:07 AM   #19
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http://www.blueridgelife.com/2013/02...s-no-injuries/

Someone was in a big hurry....
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Old 08-18-2014, 09:42 AM   #20
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I've seen one incident with a U-Haul single axle trailer being pulled by a Chevy Monti Carlo. The trailer was slightly yawing which then started to accelerate. I slowed down behind knowing that the trailer was in trouble. The yaw became more pronounced and the driver sensing problems stepped on the brakes. At that point the yaw became extreme and in one violent pitch the entire car was pulled by the yawing trailer off the road. The car ended up perpendicular to the highway with the trailer almost perpendicular to the car. Luckily no one else was involved and the trailer and car stayed upright.

Back in my old days I pulled a 21' Hi-Lo travel trailer with a '73 Olds Cutlass. At the time I did not use any sway controls and the Hi-Lo tracked well behind the Cutlass.

I was traveling about 55 mph on a flat Interstate following an 18 wheeler. I probably was about 15-20 car lengths behind him. Suddenly one of his tires on the trailer blew and started throwing chunks of tire all over the road. One piece was very large and I instinctively swerved to miss the carcass of tire. The swerve was pretty large and the Hi-Lo whipped, first opposite my swerve, then a yaw back the other way and then one final large yaw to the opposite which forced a guy off the road who was attempting to pass me. The Hi-Lo then came out of the yaw and got back in line with the car. Needless to say I pulled off the road to collect myself and to get the shaking out of my hands. It scared the heck out of me. I was using a Reese hitch with spring bars but no sway control. I got out of the car to check the hitch and everything was ok. I opened up the door on the Hi-Lo and saw that every cabinet door had popped open with the contents of the cabinets on the floor.

Needless to say I was very lucky as was the guy who I forced off the road when the trailer whipped into his lane. Along with luck I attribute the fact that the Hi-Lo because it travels in a collapsed mode had a very low center of gravity which led to its excellent towing characteristics and its ability to come out of that yaw. If that had been a typical travel trailer it probably would have been a different story.

Funny but I considered the entire situation a fluke and never did add sway control. I towed that trailer 14 years with the Cutlass, a mini van (Astro), and a half ton van without sway controls. When I sold the Hi-Lo and bought a 30' travel trailer, I did upgrade that Reese hitch with a dual-cam sway control.

Jack
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