By Frank Brodersen, F289730
Governmental and Legislative Affairs Committee member
The concept is to use a simple symbol on highway signage that indicates it is safe for an RV to enter, park, and exit at a location. This would make it clear that a tourist attraction, restaurant, fueling station, etc. is able to accommodate RVs and other oversized vehicles.
The RV Friendly signage project started in the fall of 2002 with a successful presentation to the state of Oregon’s Travel Information Council. The council manages the blue logo signs on Oregon interstate highways. Each state controls logo signs on all highways and interstates within its borders.
Input from FMCA members and a team from the Travel Information Council led to the creation of a set of standards necessary to qualify for RV Friendly signage. A limited and controlled test was conducted in the spring of 2003 on a 45-mile stretch of Interstate 5 in Oregon. The positive response from travelers and business participants led to an expanded trial in 2004, with similar positive results.
Support for the RV Friendly concept began to materialize elsewhere. In 2004 legislation was passed in Louisiana directing that state’s department of transportation to establish an RV Friendly signage program. The biggest boost came from the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), whose Board of Directors has made it a goal to have RV Friendly signage adopted in all states. As a result of RVIA efforts and those of individual RVers, Florida, Tennessee, and Washington now have legislation in place directing their departments of transportation to offer RV Friendly signage.
Ultimately, for any sign to be available for permanent use, it must be accepted for inclusion in the “Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices” (MUTCD). Sign tests and/or trials are evaluated by a national committee of traffic engineers representing cities, states, and the federal government. The Federal Highway Administration may grant interim approval allowing signs that meet specific guidelines to be used until the next revision of the MUTCD is published.
On September 6, 2005, following a review by the national committee of the MUTCD, the Federal Highway Administration granted interim approval for RV Friendly signs. The requirements closely follow the basic standards developed in Oregon in the spring of 2003 for the first test. The national committee has created a task force to follow and evaluate RV Friendly sign programs. State and local agencies may elect to participate.
The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association of Canada has included the RV Friendly signage concept in a proposal to the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC). The association is a neutral forum for gathering or exchanging ideas, information, and knowledge on technical guidelines and the best practices. TAC’s members include federal, provincial, and territorial transportation departments. The overall objective of the presentation was to engage motor transport administrators in a process to review and advance the idea of RV signage in Canada.
RVIA has developed language for a model RV Friendly law that can be given to state legislators who may wish to sponsor legislation in your state. If you wish to contact a legislator in your state, a copy may be obtained from Matt Wald, RVIA’s director of government affairs (703-620-6003, ext. 313; e-mail: [email protected]). In August 2005, RVIA participated in the National Convention of State Legislators to promote interest in the RV Friendly signage program. Legislators and staff from more than 15 states indicated a strong interest in introducing legislation in their states during the next sessions.
It would be natural to think everything is rosy and this is just going to happen. But we have an interesting problem. We all use and enjoy the enormous investment that has been made in overnight facilities designed for RV travelers. However, very few tourist attractions and retail businesses have recognized the size and scope of the RV market and reacted to our need for daytime goods and services.
In a nutshell, we have an educational problem that RV Friendly signage makes it possible to solve. We still have to solve it. We need to let our state legislators know that RV Friendly signs are needed and important. We still have to suggest to qualifying locations that they need to utilize RV Friendly signage as it becomes available. The RV industry is a $12 billion enterprise involving goods that are made and consumed in North America. We’re not outsourced or imported.
The interim approval and federal requirements for RV Friendly signs can be found at http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov. In the directory on the left side of the Web page, look under Resources and click on Interim Approvals. The actual memorandum of approval is the first item and contains the specific minimum standards that participants must meet, as well as design requirements.