The RV Friendly signage program was rolling right along. In September 2005 the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued an interim approval for states to use the RV Friendly symbol. Interim approval allows a sign or symbol to be used prior to formal adoption.
By the end of 2007, 15 states had enacted RV Friendly legislation or started programs administratively under FHWA’s interim approval.
Businesses began following procedures for having the RV Friendly symbol added to their logos on highway exit signs. The symbol, a bright yellow circle with “RV” in the center, alerts RVers that a location has ample parking and maneuvering space for large RVs.
In January 2008, more good news: the FHWA approved the symbol for inclusion in a revision of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Inclusion in this manual is a requisite for the program to be used nationwide.
But then ….
With the January 2008 approval, FHWA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that contains significant changes in symbol design and placement from the original interim standards established by FHWA in September 2005.
The changes include decreasing the symbol’s size and requiring it to be contained entirely on the business logo. The proposed revisions also give businesses the alternative of using the supplemental message “RV ACCESS” at the bottom of their logo sign.
“If adopted, these changes will severely affect usage of the RV Friendly symbol, because it will require most businesses to redesign, reprint, remove, and replace their logos, and that can be expensive,” said FMCA member Frank Brodersen. Mr. Brodersen, a member of FMCA’s Governmental and Legislative Affairs Committee, has worked in support of the RV Friendly program since its inception in Oregon in 2002.
The public has until July 31, 2008, to comment on the proposed amendments to the MUTCD.
Based on the comments received and its own experience, the FHWA will issue a final ruling concerning the proposed changes.
Interim Approval Vs. Proposed Rule
Under the current interim program, the RV Friendly symbol is a bright yellow circle, 12 inches in diameter. The letters “RV,” 8 inches high and in black type, appear in the center. The symbol is placed in the lower right corner of the business logo in a manner in which it touches both the specific service logo and the blue sign panel. “It is visible at a considerable distance,” Mr. Brodersen said. “You can literally see the yellow circle before you can read the logo. This is a significant safety factor.”
The approval contained in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking reduces the circle to 10 inches and “RV” to 6 inches. And the RV Friendly symbol must be displayed within the business’s logo, instead of overlapping onto the sign background.
“While FHWA has specified a similar location within a logo panel, the reduction in size will make it more difficult to see,” Mr. Brodersen said.
FHWA’s proposed rule also prohibits a business from using more than one “supplemental message” in its logo panel. That means messages such as RV ACCESS, DIESEL, and 24 HOURS cannot be used in conjunction with the RV Friendly symbol. “These requirements will make widespread adoption of the RV Friendly symbol very difficult and unnecessarily expensive,” Mr. Brodersen said.
The RV Friendly concept is simple: RVers are more apt to patronize facilities and attractions that they know are safe to enter, have sufficient room to park, and are safe to exit. And businesses like being able to announce that they can accommodate RVers’ needs.
“The benefit of having “˜RV’ prominently displayed at thousands of exits across America is enormous,” Mr. Brodersen said. “To make it easy and economically feasible, the industry needs your response to FHWA urging adoption of the existing interim standards.”
How To Support RV Friendly Program
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has approved the RV Friendly program for inclusion in the 2008 revision of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). In January 2008, the FHWA published a Notice of Proposed Amendments to the MUTCD (FHWA-2007-28977-0001) and opened a seven-month period for public review and comment.
In the proposed revisions, the FHWA has substantially altered the original requirements for using the RV Friendly symbol.
Our view: FMCA believes it would be more beneficial to the RV industry if the FHWA were to use the same requirements expressed in the September 2005 “Interim Approval for Addition of RV Friendly Symbol to Specific Service Signs.”
The proposed changes would make the RV Friendly symbol more expensive to use and more difficult for businesses and attractions to incorporate into their signage. Here’s why:
Reducing the size of the RV Friendly symbol would make it less visible and could lead to safety concerns.
Allowing the alternative message RV ACCESS would require most businesses to redesign and reprint their existing logos. It also raises consistency concerns, because at least 15 states already have endorsed the program under the current interim program.
Requiring the entire RV Friendly symbol to be displayed within the business logo would discourage businesses from participating, because of the added expense for logo removal, redesign, and replacement.
These changes, if approved, will prevent widespread adoption of the RV Friendly program. Therefore, FMCA urges FHWA to revert to the same standards contained in the September 2005 Interim Approval.
Act now: To access FHWA’s Public Comment and Submission Form, visit Regulations.gov (www.regulations.gov) and enter the docket ID “” FHWA-2007-28977-0001 “” in the search box.
You may also fax comments to (202) 493-2251. Or, mail comments to: U.S. Department of Transportation, Dockets Management Facility, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20590.
Important: All comments should include the docket number for the proposed rulemaking: FHWA-2007-28977-0001.
Deadline: The comment period closes July 31, 2008.
Web Resources: Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices “” www.mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov
The RV Friendly symbol is addressed in Section 2G.03 of the revised MUTCD. The MUTCD Web site includes a link to Interim Approvals Issued by FHWA.
In late January, FMCA initiated a letter-writing campaign to focus legislators’ attention on the voting rights issue and how it affects thousands of eligible voters. Approximately 13,000 FMCA member families (some 26,000 people) live in their motorhomes full-time.
FMCA posted a letter on its FMCA.com for members to copy and send to their state senators and state representatives. The letter asks legislators to amend the National Voter Registration Act to make it clear that full-time RV residents must be provided the right to register to vote.
The Escapees RV Club promoted a similar letter-writing campaign. The Escapees has more than 34,000 member families who enjoy full-time RVing.
“There is no better time to work hard to get the law changed, since this is an election year,” said Max Durbin, chairman of FMCA’s Governmental and Legislative Affairs Committee. “All we can do is hope that Congress will do something other than turn a blind eye to our concerns.”
Mr. Durbin acknowledged that once full-timers establish the right to vote, other residence and license issues may surface. “We think all citizens have a Constitutional right to vote in national elections,” he said. “At this time, we have decided to attack one problem at a time.”
FMCA Supports Voting Rights
It’s odd, when you think about it. Even U.S. citizens who are living or stationed abroad during an election year are permitted to vote absentee in any federal election. Yet, RV owners who live and travel full-time in their RVs in the United States have, on occasion, been denied the right to vote. Why? Because they have no “residential” address.
These full-time RVers, who exercise their freedom to see this great country firsthand, have been denied a fundamental Constitutional right. Included in this group are military veterans who defended this very right.
To vote in the United States, you must be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old, and registered to vote. Citizens cannot be debarred based on race, gender, or age (for citizens 18 or older). Aside from these qualifications, state legislatures are responsible for regulating voter eligibility.
Some states have restrictions based on felony convictions and other factors, such as residency. A Tennessee law, for instance, prohibits residents from using a commercial address for their voter registration.
The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (“Motor Voter Act”) was intended to make it easier for all Americans to register to vote and to maintain their registration. For many full-time RVers, though, this remains a challenge.
The recent focus on voting rights comes in the wake of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee. In one Tennessee county, 286 full-time RVers were removed from the voting roster over a two-year period because they did not have a genuine home address. The ACLU’s lawsuit claimed that the law forces residents to “choose between their fundamental right to vote and their fundamental right to travel among the states.” In February, a federal judge dismissed the case, ruling that it did not violate the RV owners’ right to vote or right to travel.