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Gas prices have been holding fairly stable since their big jump early this year, but is a gas shortage looming? The cost of new RVs keeps increasing, and it’s not just due to demand. A driver is run over by his own motorhome leaving a campsite, and Ford announces new towing tech. Read on to learn more!
By Jason Epperson
Current US Gas Prices
We begin with the current state of fuel and what it means for RV owners who are on the road this summer. The national average for a gallon of gasoline held steady through April, around $2.87 per gallon, but that doesn’t mean some places didn’t see big increases, as others saw relief.
Refineries are back to capacity after that big southern freeze-up earlier this year, but a new report from NBC says that the U.S. could be looking at a whole different gas price problem. Almost one-quarter of the country’s tanker trucks are currently idled because there’s no one to put behind the wheel, according to the National Tank Truck Carriers industry trade group. There’s also a shortage of also dispatchers and back-office staff, trained mechanics as well as registered inspectors for tanker truck operations. There have already been brief shortages in Florida, Arizona, and Missouri due to a lack of drivers.
Women to the Rescue
But there’s one giant labor pool that could help solve the problem. According to Advanced Training Systems, a company that makes simulators for trucking schools, only 10% of truck drivers are women. But truck-driving women influencers on social platforms like TikTok are demystifying the career path. Charlotte, N.C.-based Clarissa Rankin, for example, has over a million TikTok followers, who travel with her as she explains the pluses and minuses of her industry.
Trucking is consistently listed as one of the top-paying career positions open to applicants without a college degree, and there are an estimated 55,000-65,000 positions available right now.
Raw Material Price Increases
Have you seen the price of lumber lately? A boom in the building and remodeling industries has increased demand for lumber over the past few months, and supply has not been able to catch up, resulting in an increase in lumber’s cost by 340% or more in some areas. But it’s not just lumber, it’s every raw material.
The World Bank has predicted that the price of metals will rise 30% over 2020. Copper prices reached a 10-year high in 2021’s first three months, and Aluminum jumped 9% in the first quarter percent due to growth in vehicle production and construction activity.
RV manufacturers are feeling the burn of those price increases, not only from the raw materials they use but on up the supply chain from the manufacturers of all the components RVs are made out of. The result? Virtually every RV manufacturer has raised their invoice prices to dealers multiple times this year.
Man Run Over By Own Motorhome
A 67-year-old man died in the Las Vegas area on Monday after falling out of his motor home and getting run over by its rear wheels while pulling out of his site in an RV Park.
Witnesses told police the man was backing out of his campsite in his 2004 Tiffin motor coach, with a trailer attached. The trailer jackknifed, and the man leaned out the driver’s door to watch the trailer as he pulled forward to straighten it. He fell out and landed in the path of the motorhome’s rear wheels as it idled itself forward.
The man was not identified, pending notification of relatives.
RVers Slide Down Mountain on Honeymoon
A honeymoon trip to Western North Carolina almost took the lives of two Florida newlyweds when their RV slid 80′ down the side of a mountain, according to a report by WCNC Charlotte.
It was the middle of the night when Wayne and Shirley Ann May approached their destination, driving on a narrow, twisting mountain road in the Cherokee National Forest that was covered in snow and ice. Wayne lost control of the RV. It started sliding back down the mountain. Wayne was able to wedge the RV against the snow-covered rocky surface of the mountain. On the other side of the road was a 30-foot ravine.
They called 911 but the dispatcher told them it would be hours before they could get anyone out. They called AAA, who found a tow truck that was willing to come in such terrible conditions.
Jason Miller, a tow truck operator at Hampton’s Body Shop in Boone, North Carolina helped pull the RV back onto the road. He quickly realized it was too narrow for the vehicle to turn around, so he guided them as they reversed more than a mile down the mountain.
AAA selected both Miller and Kelvin Rivers, the dispatcher who called as many operators as he could until he found Miller, to receive their “hero award” earlier this month along with a $500 check for their roles in the rescue.
New RV Buyers Stay Close to home
New data into the motivation and trip preferences of people who purchased RVs since the onset of the pandemic reveal trends towards shorter trips and a preference for state parks. The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association says fewer than one-third of new RV owners took trips more than 300 miles in length. 54% opted to stay closer to home with trips under 200 miles.
For these buyers, state parks and recreation area campgrounds topped the list of ideal campgrounds. RV resorts, private campgrounds, and national park campgrounds trailed slightly behind in the results.
Ford Announces New Towing Tech
Ford Announced on Thursday that 2nd quarter truck production is likely to be down 50% due to this computer chip shortage problem. But that’s not stopping them from releasing more new features. This summer, the Ford F-150 will debut available Onboard Scales which estimate cargo weight in real-time and indicate capacity through an app, on the infotainment display, and even on the taillights. An available Smart Hitch will measure tongue weight to help customers properly hitch up and reduce the possibility of trailer sway when towing, and available continuously controlled damping will automatically adjust shock performance by operating valves in milliseconds, improving ride and handling on- and off-road, especially in towing situations and when hitting a pothole full bore.
New RV Buyer’s Guide
How many different RVs are made in America? RVtravel.com has the answer in a new, free, comprehensive directory that lists every U.S. manufacturer and its makes and models. “RVs: Who Makes What” is a free, 73-page PDF directory written by Bradford Geer, who spent more than a year gathering and compiling the useful information. The result, says RVtravel.com publisher Chuck Woodbury, is “the most comprehensive guide to RV manufacturers and their brands ever assembled.” I’ll link to it in the description.
New Road Map
For those of you paper map aficionados (and I’m one of them), Rand McNally has released its 98th edition of its iconic Road Atlas. The new edition highlights America’s 63 national parks in an editorial, and features special “inset” maps of some National Parks, as well as the re-naming of New River Gorge National Park and Preserve in West Virginia – the most recent national park inductee.
Every year, Rand McNally cartographers evaluate areas that may benefit from additional mapping – including expanding metro areas – as well as document changes to roads and new points of interest. This year’s atlas includes thousands of updates including Massachusetts and Vermont’s new mileage-based exit numbers.
RV Miles and the RV Family Virtual Summit
If you want to learn about RVing with kids, how to homeschool on the road, how to stay connected while traveling, and ultimately how to make RV life the best possible adventure for you and your family, there’s an online event happening for you, it’s called the RV Family Virtual Summit from May 11th-15th. It’s free, and it’ll include seminars, interviews, and stories from the road from lots of full-time traveling families, along with practical advice, tips, and insider information to help you get going now. Abby and I will be speaking about traveling to National Parks with Kids on May 11th and participating in a panel on RV Trip Memberships, Tips, and Tools on May 15th. Tickets are free to attend day of. Access to the seminars after the event has ended is available. A 30-day pass is $29.99 and a 6-month pass is $49.99. Head over to www.RVFamilySummit.com to grab your free ticket and view the full lineup.
Camping World Launches Peer-to-Peer Rentals
On Tuesday, I released a video about some of Camping World’s recent projects and acquisitions, and I was a day early for this news: On Wednesday, Camping World’s new peer-to-peer RV Rental platform was announced, and is set to begin accepting listings of RVs beginning May 14th at the enviable domain RVRentals.com.
RV owners will be able to rent their units on the platform for use by customers through a soft launch phase that should begin in July. By the fall, the full nationwide roll-out should be complete.
Camping World is late to the RV rental game, behind peer-to-peer giants like Outdoorsy and RVShare, and even other independent dealers who have been renting RVs out for decades. But Camping World has a leg up in that its network of 170 dealerships can offer their own rental units, along with dump stations, propane, and other technical support. Camping World’s Good Sam arm will provide rental protection insurance and roadside assistance.
RV rentals have seen explosive growth in the last year, even more so than the RV industry as a whole. RVShare says that bookings are surging ahead of the summer travel season. Last month’s reservations were up 846% last April. At the onset of COVID-19, all travel came to a halt until National Parks reopened. Then, RVshare saw a huge influx of bookings as people yearned to get outside and connect with nature. Now a year later, RVshare predicts another summer of record-setting bookings.
I interviewed Outdoorsy CEO Jeff Cavins a few months ago on the RV Miles podcast, and he shared with me that one of Outdoorsy’s biggest customer segments is people who rent RVs to go to music festivals and tailgate at sporting events. As those types of entertainment return, RV rentals could get even bigger.
Campground Booking Live Stream
If you have yet to book your campsites in what is sure to be a very busy summer camping season, tune into our Booking 2021 Campsites live stream at 7 pm central this Thursday, May 6th, where I’ll host industry experts that will tell you all about their strategies for securing those rapidly decreasing available campsites across the country, including finding the best boondocking to get away from it all. They’ll also answer your questions. It’ll be live on both the RV Miles YouTube and Facebook pages.
Man Hides Behind Car on Shoulder to Throw Rocks at Windshields
Finally, an incredible dashcam video from RVer Pete MacLachlan, who was driving the 101 south of Salinas, California shows a man who was hiding behind a sedan on the shoulder throw a rock at his windshield. Pete says just the windshield & freight is totaling well over $2000.
He also sent us this footage of a semi-truck coming into his lane on a shoulderless road. He says thankfully the only damage was to his side mirror, and the trucking company sent a check for the damage almost immediately, no questions asked. But it’s an incredible pitch for the power of a dashcam when something goes wrong. You can view the footage in this week’s RV Miles RV and Camping News video.
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