Driving an RV is not at all like driving your automobile. Unless, you have driven a large multi-axel-ed vehicle before, driving your RV will be a learning curve. But don’t let that discourage you from buying an RV or traveling in it long distances. Fear can be a natural reaction to driving something a lot bigger and longer than you are familiar with. However, please don’t let FEAR keep you from your dream of an RV lifestyle. Use these tips to stay safe and be a more confident RVer.
RV Driving Safety: What You Should Know
RV DRIVING EDUCATION
Going to RV driving school can build your confidence as an RVer. Having a professional, who has driven bigger rigs before, teach you has great benefits to you learning to drive an RV. Having a knowledgeable set of eyes seeing the road as you learn to drive your RV is comforting and helpful during your development as an RV driver.
RV driving educators have quick tips and important tactics for backing up and turning and troubleshooting the situations that you will encounter on the road.
You can find RV driving education at many rallies throughout the year, or you can contact the school directly to find someone who might be closer to your vicinity to teach you privately.
Don’t forget about your partner! Both of you should know how to drive your rig, even if one of you will be the main driver. You never know what situation you could find yourself in that may need the other person to drive.
Even if you have driven an RV before but never had formal driving for a bigger rig, consider doing professional driver education. Always be in learning mode, and you will always gain something from everything you do when it comes to RVing.
Here are some RV driving school resources:
RV DRIVING TIPS
ALWAYS know the stats of your RV. We put a page specifically in our travel planner for you to record your RV stats, so you always have them handy. Another tip is to tape them on a card and put in in plain sight for you to reference while you are driving. You need to know how tall you are, how wide you are and how heavy you are at all times. Convert these numbers to meters for the times you are traveling in other countries. Knowing these stats will help you make important decisions while driving under overpasses, through tunnels & over bridges.
Having an RV GPS can help you avoid encountering bridges and over passes that your RV is too big for.
See this video for the visual impact of not paying attention to your RV height restrictions.
The four main safety principles of driving and RV are:
- Having a BIG PICTURE of what is ahead of you
- Always keep your EYES SCANNING what is ahead of you
- ANTICIPATE what other drivers may do
- Keep your RV SEPARATE from the other traffic around you.
Learn to use your mirrors and cameras for helping you in all driving situations.
Learn about the swing out of your particular RV and the pivot point of your turning radius.
Have an awareness of your RV overhang in the front and the underhang from your front axle to your rear axle.
Big Rig Motor-home Driving Tips
Stopping your RV is so important. You weigh way more than you do in your automobile. Give yourself ample time to slow down even if it means slowing down way before time to do so. Your passengers and your contents will thank you for it!
Learn to use your deceleration devices to your advantage. You may have a jake brake, or an exhaust brake depending on your type of RV. Using your transmission to downshift is also a helpful deceleration device.
Know what kind of brakes you have. You could have: air brakes, hydraulic brakes, mechanical brakes or electric brakes. Learn about them and how to care for them to keep them in top performance condition.
When driving in an RV road signs take on a more important meaning. Especially, the yellow ones. When driving an RV, they are not just suggestions, but they become very important safety warnings. What you took for granted in your personal automobile are now things you should adhere to as rules.
You may have to downshift while going up a hill to keep your engine cool.
Always know how to use your deceleration devices to avoid losing control of your RV when doing downhill.
Only use your brakes moderately to keep them cool while using your deceleration devices to help you stay in control going downhill.
Before you back up….get out a LOOK around. Take your time. Don’t get in a hurry. People will be OK if they have to wait for you to get your bearings and do a safe job.
If possible, have someone helping you outside, on the ground. Use a cell phone on speakerphone or walkie-talkies to keep in communication while backing up. Have a plan of communication style with your on the ground person, so both of you understand their directions and hand signals. This can help you avoid fights, altercation and potential divorce.😊
Establish and plan where the RV will go into a campsite. LOOK UP for overhanging branches and potential taller interference (electrical lines, trees,
If you are backing up a trailer or 5th wheel, know your steering wheel movements and directions to back it into the space safely and accurately.
GO SLOW! This is not a race or competition! You should always back up in slow motion.
A couple more tips to keep you driving your RV safely:
- Don’t get pressured from other drivers to do something you are not comfortable with doing. Stop and wait until traffic clears to make your wider turns.
- Don’t drive in adverse conditions like heavy rain, ice, snow or high winds.
- Road conditions like crowns and curbs are dangerous and require you to move to a safe lane.
- Avoid shoulder drop-offs which can damage the insides of your RV tires. If you do drop off a shoulder, don’t jerk the wheel to get back up onto the road, very slowly keep moving forward while directing your RV back on the road.
- Using an RV GPS will help you navigate your height and weight, and upcoming turns with ease without surprises.
- Always use your turn signals
- Change lanes slowly
- Don’t use alcohol or drugs while driving an RV
- DON’T tailgate….you cannot stop as quickly in your heavy RV
- Don’t talk on your cell phone or text while driving.
- Avoid heavy traffic if possible for less stress and less chance of an accident.
- Don’t drive while you are tired.
- Practice, Practice, Practice
RV Driving Safety
Driving your RV safely can be done no matter who big it is. People do it every day. Don’t be a statistic use common sense and additional education to make your RV lifestyle safer and more enjoyable! If you take your time and learn from the pros, you will be a more confident RVer.
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