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63 Scariest RV Experiences Real RVers Have Survived

| Updated Oct 6, 2023

Real RVers share their scariest RV experiences out on the road, and we share resources to help save you from the same situations…

In a recent post in our RV Lifestyle Facebook group, Sherry B. asked the community, “What are some of the scariest events you all have experienced on the road?

Her post received well over 200 comments from fellow RVers sharing their scariest RV experiences.

We've grouped the comments into categories, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, listed resources to help you avoid and survive similar disasters. We hope this article doesn't scare you, but does help prepare you for what you might face out on the road…

If you buy something through our links, we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps keep our lights on so we can continue to provide helpful resources for RVers. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Scariest Towing Mishaps

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  • Fifth wheel hopped off the hitch and crashed onto bed of the truck at 55 mph at rush hour on a four lane highway with very narrow shoulder. -Ed S.
  • Topped a hill while pulling our 5th wheel doing 70mph and the traffic was stopped. Had to lock up camper breaks and stopped less than 3″ from car in front of us. Then moments later whole cab of truck smelled of burning rubber. -Jody H.
  • Jackknifed my fifth wheel when a car passed another car coming my way. Came within 2′ of a head-on wreck. Fortunately, we had only minor injuries. The party that caused this never stopped. Luckily I drive defensively 100 percent of the time. -Mark J.
  • I 20 east of Shreveport. Rough and hit a very unexpected dip in the road. I didn’t think I was driving too fast for the road conditions but I soon learned I was. The dip literally made the truck and 5th wheel leave the ground! Let me tell you playing Dukes of Hazard in a truck and 5th wheel is something I never want to experience again in my life! I landed it safely and don’t know how! -Chuck H.
  • Flipping the truck and trailer over. -Eugene M.
  • Doing 80 kms, approaching a green light a transport truck pulled a left hand turn in front of me. When all said and done jackknifed truck and 5th totaling both. Lots of bruises from airbags and lots of sore body parts. Transport driver got charged. -Ruth-Larry L.
  • Being rear ended at 80mph in Arkansas. We were hit so hard the 5th wheel and hitch were ripped out of the bed of my truck. -Robert W.

Resources for Towing Safety

Scariest Tire Mishaps

RV tire blowout
  • Finding out we had a blowout on the 5th wheel and it was so bad it pulled the electrical and propane wires out. Thank goodness we always turn the propane off when traveling. It could have been devastating. We were able to get the electrical fix but not the propane. -Deborah F
  • We have had a few scary things but will share about going up the I-5 in Cali, traveling 62 mph. We were behind an 18-wheeler semi and two of his tires came off, axle and all. They rolled down the interstate next to the middle divider passing the semi truck. They then hit the middle divider and shot back towards us. Literally crossed right in front of us, went down an off ramp and hit a grove of trees and it looked like an explosion!! We sincerely thanked Jesus no one got hurt. It could of been very bad. -Lindy F.
  • We had a blowout in a construction zone with concrete dividers on both sides of us. We had to drag our camper for a mile before we could get into a very small (meant for a car, not a camper and truck) emergency shoulder area. The police took an hour and a half as we sat there hoping no trucks were going to hit us. We had our 7 yo twin boys and 1 yo daughter in the truck. -Lesley H.
  • Wasn’t me but my rv died on the side of the freeway one time about 200 miles from home and as I’m waiting for a tow truck to come get my literally right next to me a rv blew its tire and almost flipped it was so scary I thought I was about to see a family die. -Gerrett. H.
  • Tire blow out. Totaled our RV -Kristin G.
  • A blow-out in my class A, and going down the mountains near Chattanooga while pulling my old ‘95 Wrangler. -Steve S.

Helpful Articles to Avoid & Survive These Mishaps

Brakes & Other Malfunctions

exploded pinion
Exploded Pinion
  • I was pulling our 32” Shadow Cruiser out of storage, was pulling through an intersection from a green light and my rear end on my suburban exploded. The pinion snapped in half and went through the bottom of the differential. We were getting ready to move and pull it across country (2000 miles). (Pictured Above) -Jeff G.
  • Lost my brakes doing the switchbacks in Zion. 🥴 thankfully I was almost to the bottom- master cylinder went out. -Kel E C.
  • Entry door flew open while on the fwy going 70 mph. Luckily no damage. -Terri R.
  • Maiden voyage as newbies. Going down a highway through the mountains while sitting on couch comforting our dog Lucy and the house door opens. Knowing in that instant I’ve no other options but to close it. -Pamela R.
  • Lost breaks on the truck hauling the travel trailer going down an mile long hill into whitehorse 🫣 -Anna G.
fire outside RV from exploding propane tanks
Fire From Exploding Propane Tanks
  • At 2:30 in the morning we woke up to exploding propane tanks! Thank goodness the wind was blowing away from us and no one in the RVs that burned were harmed. It was terrifying! Pic is from our back window. You could feel the heat from inside. (Pictured above.) -Dana B.
  • Losing the clutch on my truck with a fully loaded horse trailer, I didn't have enough power to get all the way over on the shoulder. NO ONE would move over. -Ashley F.
  • Losing brakes in my 1/2 ton truck and 30′ trailer with a lot of grade left to go. -Steve B.
  • Driving a 1968 UltraVan after a weekend of Camping. My Pyranese/Lab mix would not stop crying at the door and pacing around (we had only been on the road 15 min). I finally got my husband to stop and let her out, but she didn't do anything but whine. I walked back to the RV and smelled electrical burning!! I yelled at my husband who had to try and get the bed up (Corvair engine, nothing looks wrong), but smoke has started coming out of the couch area. He opened that and the fuel pump had caught fire, melting wires around it. The dog probably saved our lives… -Nona P.
  • Drive shaft broke on a near empty IA road. I will never forget that noise. It bounced a few times before we could stop and tore out almost every wire in our rig… -Joyce C.
  • Axle broke and sent the whole wheel flying across 4 lanes of highway traffic. Missed everyone! Our trailer was damaged but I didn’t even care. No one was injured! -Rebecca M.
  • No foot brakes on tow vehicle. THRU tole booth down exit ramp to parking lot. NY CITY. -Darlene D.
  • Our serpentine belt broke at 70 MPH pulling or 44 foot 5th wheel in heavy 4th of July weekend traffic. We had our granddaughter with us and getting to the side with limited steering & brakes was terrifying. -Nadine B.
  • Shattered truck brake drum coming through the buses windshield. Took us out and five cars behind us. Closed I65 down for a couple of hours. -Jack T.

Resources to Help You Avoid & Survive These Malfunctions

Driver / People Error

63 Scariest RV Experiences Real RVers Have Survived 1
Pop Up Trailer Ran Over By Dump Truck
  • Dump truck ran over our Pop-up. No injuries except for minor whiplash. (Pictured above.) -Cooper M.
  • Having 18 wheeler nearly run me off the road in Las Vegas. I am now the proud owner of a dash cam. -Philip P.
  • I was going 75+ on I-80 in PA at 3am, came around a bend, and there's a guy standing in the middle of the road, arms outstretched, trying to get killed. I had a rig full of sleeping people, somehow managed to swerve and not hit the guy, but if I wasn't such an alert night driver, we all could have been dead. I pulled off at the next exit and called the cops (this was pre-cell phones). -Kim Z.
  • Head on collision exactly a week ago. -Venessa M.
  • Had a man scratch the screen at night with his fingers. When I opened the curtain to see what the noise was, he was standing at my window. I screamed profanity at him so loudly he backed up trying to say he thought he was at a friends rig. This was in a crowded cg. -Theresa L.
  • A car entered the highway going the wrong direction, straight at us. Almost taken out by a Prowler lol 😲 -Amanda P.
  • Looking into the drivers window (s) of 18 wheelers and seeing them texting. 🤬 -Marie B.
  • Cruising I-5 last Christmas towing our 28′ in Northern California. A road rage incident between a couple of cars almost took us out. Luckily I saw it coming in my side mirror and was ready for it, but that got my heart pumping for sure. -Dan C.
  • Falling asleep, but I woke up in time to not end up in the river. -Bill G.
  • Got out of the RV to see a view on going to the sun road in Glacier National Park “parked” on a turnout facing uphill with a cliff behind us with the kids in the back, got back in and was still in gear and no parking brake on. Was physically sick to my stomach what could have happened. -Jamé H.
  • The person I came close to running over who tried to commit suicide by laying down across the slow lane on I-5 in northern California. I got on the brakes and finally was able to change lanes. I missed her by inches. -Rick R.
  • The drive from Payson AZ down to Mesa…I had to pull over and let my son drive the Jeep cause I had a seizure; his dad was pulling the camper in front of us. It was the crazy curves and hills and the flashing changes of scenery that did it. I don’t ever want to make that drive ever again. -Beth S.
  • Going to GNP our GPS sent us over a mountain road and we totally missed the size restriction sign. It was a white knuckle ride up and down the mountain with our 35′ ft TT. Our truck alone was too long for the size restriction. Needless to say, the people in back of us were furious as we had to maneuver around the mountain going about 5 mph! (Don't need anyone telling me how stupid we are. We already know it!) -Susan K.
  • Following Apple Maps to our destination in Arizona. Me saying I don’t think this is right but following the dirt road anyway. Get to the narrowed dead end three miles later with no driveways in site.
  • Coming around a bend in the road to see a bridge with height sign of 11’6” – and we are 12’6”. Had to unhook the toad and block a lot of traffic to turn around. Next day I purchased Garmin RV 890 and have never had an incident again. -Kelly S.
  • Middle of a shoot out in San Jose several years ago. Took a bullet in my radiator. -Mike M.
  • Drunk T-boned our trailer as we drove through a green light. -John F.
  • Side canopy deployed going down the highway must have forgotten to lock it. Thankfully we got it stopped before it tore up anything. I use zip ties on it now…lol -Mike H.
  • Pickup truck with trailer cutting us off on an exit ramp. Pickup made it past us, his trailer didn't. Slammed into our side right by the driver's seat. Bent steering, damaged body, knocked out fog light. Sounded a lot worse than it looked. Ended up being over $15,000 in damage but the sound of the impact was the scariest part while you're going 50 mph on an exit ramp. -Howard W.

Resources to Help You Avoid & Survive These Mishaps

Weather Catastrophes & Animal Encounters

rock slides from flash flood
  • Last month road tripping in Nevada near Isgosauro State Park. Rock slides and flash flooding. -Kathy G.
  • Driving I-80 along the Bonnieville salt flats 50 mph wind kicked up and tore my class c roof almost completely off. The sound was terrifying. I got pulled over and called 911 cause i felt like i was having a heart attack. State trooper came got me calmed down and told me to drive under 5mph for 7 miles on the shoulder to a rest stop. This happened 3 weeks ago.. I am experiencing ptsd big time. -Tina T.
  • Grizzly bear at the door. Cougar at the front of the class A. Apparently wildlife is drawn to our rig. -Pavidlo L.
  • Driving across Saskatchewan several years ago, the cross winds were incredible. Scared us both but the worst was when a tremendous cross wind pushed our Roadtrek Simplicity to the right lane. After this trip we got Sumo springs. -Joseph V.
  • We pulled into a very rural closed for season general camp area in Northern Wisconsion or Minnesota late on a dark night in torrential rain. Couldn't see a thing. We opened the rear camper door the next morning after Sunrise to find we were about six feet away from a major mountain cliff. -Allen G.
  • Dust storm our first trip with the trailer on I80 in Nebraska…all we saw was a brown wall of dirt and rain and wind!!! -Diane E.
  • Gale force winds in Joshua Tree national park (camper rocking), flooding in Texas where we thought the camper would float away, snowstorm in the ski resort area of Colorado in April as we drove across 11,000 foot elevation and tornado in Minnesota where we took shelter at Walmart. What’s left??? -Debbie E.
  • Running from a tornado with camper attached to the truck. -Michael D.
  • The night we got hit by a tree while putting our 3yr old to bed early. We were all inside when we got stuck and it penetrated our roof blocking our front door to escape. The campground cut the tree out and we were all safe and unharmed. We were only 3 months in to our camping journey in a brand new rig. The insurance took care of everything and we are currently awaiting our “casitas” return to us. -Victoria F.
  • Tornado warning a few miles away where it hit. -Mike W.
  • Well, driving through a blizzard was interesting. -Dan. S.
  • Rock slide in CA last winter after torrential rains. large boulders rolling down onto road hitting and a vehicle in front of us. We made it thru, but very scary to see. -Jerry F.

Resources to Help You Survive These Catastrophes

The Most Utterly Terrifying Experiences!

Now, we'll end this article with the most terrifying, horrific RV experiences of them all! You may never want to RV again after realizing these scary possibilities…

  • $7.59 for gas…AZ, CAL border back in June.
  • My mother in law saying she wanted to go with us. -Robin M.
  • Letting my husband drive! -Christina B.
  • Realizing after a 4 month vacation on the road we were, in fact, going to have to return home. 😱 -Michael V.
  • Left a campsite, drove 4 hours then realized I forgot my wife. -Allen G.

10 Biggest FEARS of RV Travel (& Tips to Overcome Them)

10 Biggest FEARS of RV Travel (& Tips to Overcome Them)

Despite what you might think, we didn't write this article to scare you. We wrote it to prepare you for some of the scary things you might encounter while RVing.

We are big believers that fear should be used as a warning bell, but never keep you from your dreams. As a warning bell, you can assess the problem and figure out a solution.

So, we are going to share the biggest fears of RV travel, and provide resources to help you find the best solutions for you. Keep reading…

Plan Your Next Adventure to Coastal Maine

By popular demand, we announce the publication of the latest in our library of RV travel guides – a 7-Day Adventure Guide to Coastal Maine.

63 Scariest RV Experiences Real RVers Have Survived 2

With its dramatic rocky coastline, enchanting fishing towns, and windswept sandy beaches, Coastal Maine is a destination that should be on every RVers’ bucket list. 

We call these guides “7 days,” but they really are seven stops. They’re meant to be experienced at your own pace, a couple of days at one stop, a week at another, however long you want.

We have carefully curated this 66-page digital guide (not a printed book) so you can take in all Coastal Maine has to offer. We give you the routes to drive, the spot to stop, the places to eat, and the museums, excursions, hikes and adventures we think you will enjoy the most.

For an RVer, Coastal Maine has it all: stunning landscapes, short drives between stops, spacious campsites, that perfect small city and nature mixed with a seemingly endless variety of things to see and explore.

63 Scariest RV Experiences Real RVers Have Survived 3

Get the Home Study Course today and worry about the road, not the repairs!
Every time you move your RV it's like driving through a hurricane during an earthquake. Parts break and many items need to be maintained, this program will show you how you can save time and money by gaining the confidence to take on the majority of the issues you’ll come across. Don’t get caught with your RV in the shop! Learn how you can maintain and repair your RV at your own pace and at the most convenient time for you! This course is produced by the National RV Training Academy.

Mike Wendland

Published on 2023-10-06

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

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