(ABC4) – As the world shut down during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, severely impacting the travel and hospitality business, one industry came out shining on the other end: recreational vehicles.
“RV sales are at an all-time high, it’s not even one specific segment. It’s all segments across the board,” says Brett Parris, who owns Parris RV which has two locations in Salt Lake County.
The rise of the coronavirus’ effect on what used to be considered normal life had a direct correlation with the sales of motor homes, camper trailers, and other travel trailers in 2020. That growth has continued into 2021, which is expected to be the industry’s biggest year since 1983, according to the longtime RV dealer. Parris supposes that many of those who purchased an RV in 2020 and now in 2021 did so for a variety of reasons.
“I think RVs gave some people a little bit of security,” Parris tells ABC4.com “Maybe you’ve needed a social distancing vehicle, an emergency preparedness vehicle, or even a quarantine vehicle. If someone in your family gets sick, you got a spot on the side of the house. So, I think all of that, along with the fact that traditional travel was out, we had a massive run.”
This year, even as the COVID-19 vaccine has become widely available and travel restrictions have been lifted, folks who bought their RV as an escape from the crisis have not returned or sold off the vehicles, according to Parris. He believes that the trend will stick and that new RV owners have found an interesting new hobby.
“RVs are a sense of freedom,” Parris, who has been taking RV trips all over the state for years, says. “If you’ve got one, you just grab your family and go. You don’t have to have a specific agenda, you’re not trying to make a reservation at a hotel. Your blanket, your sheets, your food, your restroom, everything you need is there, I mean, everything. It’s a home on wheels.”
Of course, those who are new – or even experienced – in the RV game need to take the proper precautions before heading out on the open road. A recent post on the Reddit forum, r/IdiotsInCars, showed a camper trailer near the Timpanogos Highway exit on I-15 with the slide-out on the side completely extended, almost into the other lane.
When reminded of the image, which he had also seen on social media, Parris laughs and exclaims he has never seen such a thing in his career. Typically, even if the power retraction feature is broken on the trailer, there is still a manual crank to bring the slide-out safely inside.
Still, as more and more Utahns make their way outside for recreation, with many in a recreational vehicle, there are still other basic rules of the road to follow.
Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Chris Bishop has noticed an obvious increase in traffic incidents this summer as opposed to last summer, especially with recreational vehicles. Naturally, in non-pandemic years, this is usually the case.
“During the summertime we always see an increase in crashes in general, because there’s more traffic out there, especially traveling across our beautiful states,” Bishop remarks. “We definitely also see an increase with recreational vehicles.”
In addition to Bishop’s advice, which includes making sure all slide-outs are secured, keeping lights, brakes, and tires well maintained, and obeying the speed limit, Parris also wants RV owners to be conscious of the fire hazards that are inherent in recreational vehicles.
Drivers need to be especially aware of their safety chains and ball bearings in their RVs, according to Parris.
The perils of dragging a loose chain, which can cause a spark have been mentioned earlier this summer by Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox during the introduction of the statewide Fire Sense campaign.
The ball bearings, Parris states, can heat up just as quickly if they’re not properly lubricated.
“Periodically you ought to take it to someplace, doesn’t have to be an RV place, it can be an automotive shop and have it taken apart and inspected, to make sure the bearings are good, make sure it’s greased and make sure your seals are still good on your bearings,” he recommends.
When done safely, Parris feels there’s no better way to enjoy a trip with family, especially in the Beehive State, than with a recreational vehicle.
“RVs are completely mainstream and it’s a great way to take your family out relatively inexpensively.”