American highways are getting more and more friendly for RVers. That primarily is a result of the industry-supported “RV Friendly” program that identifies retailers along interstate highways that are suited to handle RVs.
For the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) lobbying team, in fact, it has been a legislative priority for the last couple of years.
Nine states already have approved the program, although Matt Wald, RVIA director of government affairs, says only four – Oregon, where the program started, Washington, Florida and Iowa – have actually posted “RV Friendly” logos thus far on the blue information signs near exits along the interstate highway system.
Other states where “RV Friendly” signs are going through the local regulatory process and should pop up soon are Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Tennessee and Michigan. Additionally, Wald said, five other states are expected to consider approving “RV Friendly” signage during the winter legislative season.
Along with Oregon, Louisiana was a leader in the movement until Hurricane Katrina struck a year and a half ago, bringing its program to a screeching halt.
Wald credits organizations such as the Good Sam Club and the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) for promoting the “RV Friendly” concept in their home states. “RVers that I’ve talk to, they absolutely love it,” Wald said. “They see it as not only a benefit in terms of being able to get in and out a retailer’s parking lot, but they see it as a quality of life issue.
“It reduces their stress when they are on the highway. They don’t have to worry that if they get off the interstate whether they are going to have trouble finding a place to turn around so they can get back on.”
The Federal Highway Administration (FHwA) already has tentative guidelines for the states to follow, which are expected to be finalized later this year.
Facilities must have paved surfaces free of potholes and overhead wires with a minimum swing radius of 50 feet to allow RVs easy entry and exit. Restaurants and other business requiring short-term parking must have two or more spaces that are 12 feet wide and 65 feet long. At fueling facilities, pump lanes must be at least 12 feet wide and overhead canopies a minimum of 14 feet high.
“The big thing is being able to get in and out of a retailer’s parking lot without having to unhook or to back out,” Wald said.
Depending on the state, retail locations that meet the criteria pay between $25 and $150 a year to affix the “RV Friendly” logo to the blue informational signs.
Wald said he’s been told by boaters that they look out for the “RV Friendly” logos. “They figure if a retailer can handle an RV, it can also handle a pickup truck pulling a boat trailer,” Wald said.