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In a move that will please most U.S. motorhome manufacturers, California Gov. Gray Davis recently signed a bill to extend the length of motorhomes allowed on major Golden State roads to 45 feet.

It was a turnaround for Davis, who surprised RV industry officials last year with a last-minute veto of a similar bill for what he said were safety concerns. Changes, including the creation of a safety committee and an
agreement from RV manufacturers to produce an educational safety video, apparently swayed Davis.

The primary factor, however, was showing Davis that larger motorhomes are safe to drive, according to Jim Sheldon, special assistant to the chairman of Monaco Coach Corp., Coburg, Ore., a point man in the industry’s efforts to
eliminate restrictive California length laws.

“What made the difference was our ability to put together some very solid statistics concerning the safety of operating a motorhome over 40 feet long,” Sheldon said. “We didn’t have that information last year.”

Sheldon said a search of state records found no fatalities involving motorhomes over 40 feet anywhere in the country.

“We are delighted about the results,” said Craig Kirby, vice president and general counsel for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). “Many people put in many hours of hard work on this issue.”

Davis acknowledged the safety of motorhomes over 40 feet in a message he sent to the California General assembly that noted “these vehicles have impressive and proven safety records, according to statistics maintained by
the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).”

Nonetheless, Davis declared California the “lead(er) in terms of safety measures governing the use of motorhomes over 40 feet in length.”

The new law requires drivers of motorhomes longer than 40 feet to take written and hands-on driving tests, fill out a medical questionnaire and drive only on approved highways, which basically consists of roads approved for use by heavy trucks. It also includes a requirement that the California Highway Patrol report accidents involving motorhomes longer than 40 feet to the California General Assembly for two years.