September '14

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rv-pro.com SEPTEMBER 2014 • RV PRO • 103 Cannon subsequently became an infor- mational member of the RVIA Standards Steering Committee, a post he still serves on today. e Committee, along with its technical subcommittees, discuss standards and technical issues and then reports its findings and recommendations to the RVIA Board of Directors. When Cannon came on the scene, he brought the issue of RV weight to RVIA's attention. Previously, RVIA's primary safety focus had been on systems such as plumbing, heating, propane and electrical systems. However, with RVSEF's data, the Associa- tion began studying RV weights, weight distribution, and the impact it has on safety and warranty claims. With RVSEF's input, RVIA adopted standards and eventually created the weight-labeling program. Still, it was not a simple process, as many factors go into weight, and what the label represented had to be clearly defined, Hopkins notes. Water weight and propane weight are two examples. ere was much discussion over how much water, if any, should be included in the overall weight of the RV. e same issue applied to propane. The determining factor – which has become the industry standard – is that because water could be off-loaded and tanks filled once the RV had reached its destina- tion, the unloaded vehicle weight (UVW) rating would not include water. e oppo- site was true for propane, which cannot be off-loaded, so all units leaving the factory include propane weight in the UVW. With RVSEF's input, tire manufacturers began manufacturing RV-specific tires. e tires are not only safer now, but they last longer and the manufacturers have seen a reduction in warranty claims, according to Cannon. As RV manufacturers like Newmar realized that the findings of RVSEF could reduce costs and warranty claims, they began to embrace the organization as well. Beyond simply weighing RVs, Anderson and Cannon were able to sit down with representatives for RV manufacturers and study how the chassis were built to be able to understand all aspects of the RV and how weight affects them. RVSEF's efforts helped the RV industry be proactive on safety issues, as voluntary weight labeling by RV manufacturers has since become a federal government mandate. Today, Cannon describes Merritt Island, Fla.-based RVSEF as being focused 75 per- cent on educating consumers and 25 per- cent on educating manufacturers. An Expanding Focus on Safety Issues Even as RVSEF was getting the RV industry to consider RV unit weights and tire pressure levels as serious safety issues, the organization was undergoing a transformation of its own, as Cannon and Anderson realized there was a need to expand the group's focus to include such things as driving safety, hitch ratings, fire safety, propane safety, and more. Today, along with proprietary seminars, RVSEF publishes several safety videos. A popular one is a nine-volume self-paced safety training program covering every aspect of RV safety. Airstream has put the video series in every RV it has built for the past nine years. "The program is regularly updated whenever new safety features are added or changed," Cannon says. The newest DVD covers air brakes. While commercial truck drivers must have Cannon talks about RV safety issues with RV Industry Association committee members during the Association's Committee Week event in Washington, D.C., earlier this year. Initially, some RV manufacturers were distrustful of Cannon's organization and motives, but subsequently many realized that RVSEF's findings could reduce costs and warranty claims. Today, Cannon serves on RVIA's Standards Steering Committee.

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