RV Height Clearance: Tips for (Accident-Free) Travel


When preparing for an RV road trip, you might think the most important thing is having the RV itself, and packing for the journey. To be sure, owning or renting an RV is a must to be able to actually go on an RV road trip. And, you definitely need to have prepared food, clothing, and filled up your propane tanks before heading out. However, there is more you need to know before you can go, and it involves dealing with RV height clearance. 

You need to be sure you’re prepared for the unique experiences and challenges that come with going on a road trip in an RV, so read on to learn more about RV height clearance, especially as it regards bridge clearance height. 

Why You Need To Know Your RV Height Clearance

It goes without saying that RVs aren’t like personal vehicles. RVs are bigger, longer, taller, and heavier than most cars and trucks, so more care and skill are required to drive them. Carelessness or ignorance can lead to accidents, and one of the worst things that can happen when operating an RV is misjudging the height of an overpass and crashing into it. The resultant damage to your RV could lead to thousands of dollars in repairs, plus any citations you may receive from police for ignoring height and safety regulations.

By knowing the height of your RV, you can better plan out your journey and avoid any bridge clearance height disasters. Most RVs max out at a height of 13 feet, 6 inches (13’6”), but that’s not the end of the story. Air conditioning units are not generally assessed as part of RV height, so your actual total RV height clearance needed may be slightly higher than stated by the manufacturer. Any aftermarket additions to the top of your RV also need to be factored in. 

Even if you’re going by your RV model’s stated height and you think you have enough room to squeeze under lower-than-average overpasses, it’s wise to double check your RV’s maximum height before you set out on the road. 

Bridge Clearance Heights in the U.S.

The height of most U.S. overpasses ranges from 14 to 16 feet, according to federal guidance, but some states can have clearances even lower. You must also consider how the repaving of roads and highways can significantly lower bridge clearance height. For instance, up to 2 inches of clearance under a bridge/overpass can be lost each time a road is repaved. There’s no guarantee bridge clearance heights will be remeasured after repaving, which could lead to a messy situation if you’re not careful.

At the very least, encountering too low a bridge and catching it at the last minute could force you into some time-consuming rerouting. So, what can you do? What options do you have to ensure you’re driving on the best possible route for your RV?

How To Avoid RV Height Clearance Incidents

You can avoid almost any nasty clearance-related incidents with RV-specific GPS units. With an RV-specific GPS, you can access driving routes tailor-made for those with RVs. This means you can be sure that the route you’re taking is RV-friendly, helping you to avoid low bridges, narrow roads, heavy traffic, and also observe any weight limits. Normal GPS units won’t do the trick, since they’re designed for general usage. You need an RV-specific one. 

If a dedicated GPS unit isn’t your style (or is something you haven’t budgeted for), then you’re in luck. You can find smartphone apps available that serve the same function. The advantage of downloading an RV-specific GPS app to your phone is that you can check them wherever you are, and don’t have to be sitting in the driver’s seat. When getting on the road, you can mount your phone as you might normally do in your regular vehicle, and use the RV-specific GPS. 

The combination of RV-specific GPS and your knowledge about the maximum height of your RV (and the variance you may encounter with bridge clearance height while driving) is the best possible recipe to prevent any height-related mishaps with your RV. 

The More You Know… Now, It’s Time To Go!

Now that you’re fully aware of the necessity of knowing your RV height clearance and what sort of bridge clearance height issues you may encounter while out and about, it’s time to finally get your hands on an RV. Once you have an RV, you need to be sure that you have your RV-specific GPS unit ready (or the smartphone apps) before you start out on your adventure. 

Cruise America can help you find the perfect RV for your traveling needs, and also provide information about the RV height clearance of the vehicle you book. With Cruise America, you can be sure that you’ll be behind the wheel of a safe, comfortable RV for the entirety of your journey. Get in touch with Cruise America today, and mind your RV height clearance!