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Friday, February 8, 2008

Tips on Driving a Motorhome or Large RV

RVing is more than enjoyable, it’s downright fun! Because of size, some folks can be intimidated by RVs. Even the smaller RVs are larger than the average car so people who have never driven large vehicles can feel overwhelmed at the idea of getting behind the wheel of an RV. Be sure to watch the video for a firsthand look at what it’s like in the cockpit of a motorhome. Let me assure you that pulling a 5th wheel or travel trailer or driving a motorhome (no matter how large or small) is easy. If you’re a novice I recommend finding some personal instruction available from RV dealers, RV & truck driving schools and through videos and DVDs. Follow these few suggestions and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the RV experience. Remember that you’re living large and heavy and need to put more distance between your RV and the rig in front of you. Never tailgate because you do not have the same stopping distance as you do in a car (you shouldn’t tailgate in a car either). Positional awareness is very important in keeping your rig in the center of the road. Pick a point on your windshield that is always there like a decal or a fixed point on the dash and line it up with the fog line. Get out of your RV and look at where that visual reference places your rig in the road. Adjust this visual reference until you are dead center in your lane. This little exercise will help you keep yourself moving straight down the road when you are having to thread the needle through construction zones and narrow bridges. In the video I show you how to make a tight right hand turn with a 40 foot motorhome with an additional 18 feet of towed car. I say I’m turning into the “right lane” when it is actually my left lane that I’m moving into in order to give myself room to make the sharp right angle turn. Watch trucks and other RVs make these kinds of turns and it will give you a better idea of what to do and what not to do. So please don’t write in the comments section that I don’t know my left from my right, it’s kind of hard to drive, talk and make a video at the same time and get everything perfect. I do make mistakes (just ask Mrs. Professor). Make sure you check both mirrors before you make any lane changes and keep in mind that you do not have the same kind of acceleration as a car. You will need to adjust your driving habits to include thinking well in advance of where you want to turn and give yourself plenty of room to execute your turns. Know how tall your RV is so you don’t tear off an air conditioner going under a low bridge. Don’t be in a hurry, take your time, practice safe driving habits, wear your seat belt and enjoy the ride. If you find yourself tense, gritting your teeth or over-gripping the steering wheel take a few deep breaths and tell yourself, “I’m in my happy place - my RV” relax and think about all the people who would give their left arm to be where you are right then.

Helping you own the road (after all we did pay for it) - Jim Twamley, Professor of RVing

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4 Comments:

  • Jim, when you were going under the bridge, were you not straddling the yellow line and changing from one lane to another with out giving a signal?

    Also, when turn right and giving a left turn signal to move over into the left turn to get a bigger radius you better check your right mirror even though you have your right turn signal on there will sometimes someone coming around your right side and never pay attention to your turn indicators.

    The best thing to do is only move half way into the left lane.

    Egon

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 10, 2008 10:59:00 PM PST  

  • Egon, you sound like a former or active trucker? As a former trucker myself, I agree with you and it should be commented that you are responsible if a right hand turn accident occurs in 9 out of 10 accidents. Unfortunately it is also a necessity in a non- articulating vehicle such as a motor home, that the way Jim shows it, with proper rear view checks as any safe driver would perform, is in fact the proper way to turn onto a two lane road. Also when he entered under the bridge he actually did it in the safest manner to prevent passing on the left in case he needed the room and prevented passing on the right in case there was something on the right he was not aware of and hidden by the bridge. This gives him more reaction time in both situations and prevents additional problems from the rear, although it would not prevent a motor-cyclist from endangering himself.

    By Blogger desertratdan, at February 21, 2008 11:13:00 AM PST  

  • It should also be noted that in California it is illegal to attach anything to your windshield. If the professor were to enter California he would need to remove his GPS.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at February 23, 2008 1:38:00 PM PST  

  • Video? What video? Did I miss it?

    By Anonymous ShaRon, at February 23, 2008 6:21:00 PM PST  

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