September '14

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104 • RV PRO • SEPTEMBER 2014 rv-pro.com training and pass a test on air brakes before they can get a license, no such regulations exist for RV owners. As more motorhome manufacturers install air brakes into their units, some states are beginning to consider regulations over air brakes. "Air brakes work and feel differently," Cannon notes. "A little training can go a long way when it comes to safely han- dling your motorhome. Newmar puts the 'Understanding and Testing Your Motorhome Air Brakes' DVD in every airbrake-equipped motorhome they build." RVSEF's newest educational material is its online program, which includes its "Properly Matching Trucks and Trailers" safety course based on its most popular requested seminar at RV shows since 2005. At the same time, RVSEF has remained true to its origins: It still actively tracks RV unit weights and tire pressure levels. While Cannon is the public face of RVSEF, the organization includes three husband- and-wife teams on the road, where these full-time RVers meet with RV owners at rallies and shows, weighing their units and educating them on safety practices. Each team goes out with four individual tire scales. ey weigh on a site that has to meet certain criteria to assure that all data is accurate and consistent. After a complete analysis, they send the RVer a computer- ized report with suggestions on minimizing issues such as exceeding ratings and proper air pressure. While Cannon's organization has found greater acceptance in the RV industry today, he says his ultimate goal has never changed over the years: To educate RVers about their units so they can be safer and enjoy them even more. "I am not a teacher; I'm an educator. I enjoy helping people understand what I'm talking about," he says. "I am one of the top supporters of the RV industry. RVing is what it's all about. I love RVing. I love camping. I love the atmosphere. "I love to see people out there RVing – especially families. I love pulling into a campground and seeing a young family in a pop-up; they will be campers for the rest of their lives," he adds. "I want to bring as many people into that lifestyle as I can." RVSEF Head Has Lengthy, Diverse RV Background H ow Walter Cannon came to be executive director of the RV Safety Education Foundation is the story of a life lived in reverse. While many people dream of traveling the country in an RV once they retire, Cannon and his wife, Amy, chose to "eat their dessert" first, as he describes it, referring to their decision to become full-time RVers while still in their late 20s. e impetus for that decision took shape in their minds after several family members died just before or shortly after their respective retirements. It made the young couple recognize that there was no certainty in the future. e Cannons took stock of their lives and decided that if they had any dreams they needed to achieve them while they were young. And their biggest dream was to travel the United States in a motorhome. So, they sold everything they had, gave up their jobs, and embarked on an adventure. ey spent their first winter on a beach in Florida. Although they loved RVing, they did not enjoy being idle. is led to a variety of RV-related jobs, including camp hosts, seasonal work at Camping World, manufacturer's reps for aftermarket accessories firms, parts and service managers at RV dealerships, and even owning their own parts and accessories business. All of those positions helped the Cannons develop a vast knowledge of RVs, RV parts and accessories, and the people who use them. at education paid dividends when Cannon first met retired helicopter test pilot John Anderson at a consumer RV rally. Anderson was the founder of the grassroots organization A Weigh We Go (AWWG), a one-source clearinghouse for RVers on proper weights and tire pressure levels, and Cannon quickly saw the value the organization offered. In 2000, Anderson donated all of the assets – including scales and databases – of the for-profit A Weigh We Go to the newly created nonprofit RVSEF. Anderson retired in 2003, and Cannon was then appointed executive director, a post he has held ever since. — By Terri Blazell-Wayson

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