What length RV should require a special driver’s license

A rather long RV!

Do you ever think that perhaps the drivers of bus-sized motorhomes or 60-foot fifth-wheeler/truck combinations should be required to obtain a special driver’s license? Or do you believe things are just fine as they are, with no special license?

Is there a certain length of RV that you think is just too long to not require a special license? Now’s your chance to voice your opinion.

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42 Thoughts to “What length RV should require a special driver’s license”

  1. Joel Hagler

    I think any RV driver should be required to have had an educational training course……and the partner (wife/husband,etc) should also have one. Very important on long drives not to be able to split the driving duties…or in case of old people (like us) having medical issues.

    1. Dave Hagen

      Many of us ‘oldsters’ never had driver’s education and we turned out ok in all these years of driving.

    2. Julie Earl

      Is there a training class available on driving/ towing an RV ????
      I have experienced towing a travel trailer but it’s been 30+ years. I would not mind Going to a class on towing an RV.

  2. TexasRVer

    I will start by saying I feel a license endorsement should be required to pull anything over 30 feet. It has always seemed odd to me that in Texas a CDL or a Class A license is required to operate a vehicle over 26,000 lbs or that it has air brakes. But a person that has never driven anything bigger than a Prius can crawl into a 43 foot Class A motorhome weighing over 26,000 lbs with air brakes. We workcamp in a RV park and the amount of RV’s in excess of 40 feet has doubled from last year along with damages caused to the park from inexperienced drivers.

    1. david

      If you are thinking that a drivers license is the same as driver training, then there is your error. I will then ask, when has Government ever improved any thing when it comes to personal freedoms? If drivers licensing where any thing other than a tax on our rights, please explain to me why most accidents are by teen-agers. They have only recently gotten their drivers license, so the training should be fresh in their minds. Drivers licenses started out as only for Chauffeurs. Once the idea was planted in the public minds, states created a new tax called drivers licensing. Enough already. If states wanted to make things safer, they might require a certificate of training. No money in that.

  3. Tom

    A special test for common sense would probably be better test. I see people driving 65-70 pulling trailer or tow vehicles and swaying back and forth with the driver not having a clue. I often wonder if these are people out for a long weekend or vacation trip and have to cover the miles in a hurry.

  4. Lisa

    My husband and I are seriously considering purchasing an RV for our future travels. We are currently in the homework/ research stage, but the one comment I did make was that maybe we should get our CDLs so we are prepared for driving these machines. If nothing else, we will have more knowledge about handling something bigger than a 25 ft fleet rental.

    1. TravelingMan

      You will thank yourself in the long run…

      If you are interested in a great “RV Bootcamp”, the Escapees club offers an excellent training course.

      https://www.escapees.com/event/rvers-boot-camp-rainbows-end-east-texas/

      Here is another:

      https://www.rvbasictraining.com/boot-camp/boot-camp.html

      You will feel more confident in your travels for sure.

  5. John Yellowolf

    My computer won’t load any of your polls – what am I doing wrong?

    1. RV Staff

      Sorry, John. I’m sure you’re not doing anything “wrong.” I’m not the expert (I’m even worse than “computer illiterate”!), but the last I heard from our IT guy, he said what we’re using for our polls is not using HTTPS, so your security settings might be blocking them. We’re working on getting everything up to the HTTPS level in our newsletters, etc. In the meantime, you could click on your security options and choose “allow for this session,” or you could back off your security settings a notch (which you probably don’t want to do). I hope this helps. —Diane at RVtravel.com

  6. Kevin Coughlin

    In the last several years I have driven in the 10 states that require their residents to demonstrate some knowledge and skill before driving a large RV. In 40+ years of driving I’ve seen my share of drivers towing badly. I feel it’s time to require a special endorsement for towing any length of trailer.
    In Washington State the legal speed limit when towing is 60 mph. Earlier today I saw two trailers going at least 70 mph in a driving rainstorm (first rain in weeks) both trailers were swaying out of the lane. Knowledge might change some of those poor driving behaviors. Stats must keep the cost low. It shouldn’t be about money, it should be about education and traffic safety.

  7. Denny wagamam

    Yes one should have a license to drive an RV. Maybe all RV’s With a total length of over 30’. I have seen RV drivers that think they can drive just because they are. Some are too old at 50 or 60 or you pick an age number. Some can drive darn well at 80yrs Years, overall most drivers are good drivers or just plain lucky.

  8. Goldie

    There needs to be an endorsement, similar to a motorcycle endorsement. Then, again like motorcycles, you could have a safety foundation that establishes a driving education course that, with successful completion, waives any driving test. Those not willing to take the course could qualify via standard written and driving tests. You need a motorcycle endorsement regardless of size in most states. An RV should certainly carry at least that same requirement. If nothing else, just think how many marriages could be saved if newbies had a vague idea how to back up their unit!

  9. Joe Schroeder

    After pulling a 14,500 lb, 37 ft fifth wheel for several years with a long bed 4 door dodge I have always felt that an endorsement on the license would be a good idea. We were 53 ft bumper to bumper. This is similar to driving a semi so there should be at least a written test.

  10. TravelingMan

    And then it also makes us think about the RV Rental Companies…

    Never owned one….Never drove one…”Sure, I can drive a 40′ Class A Motorhome”.

    Did you ever see the movie “RV”?

  11. Terry OKeefe

    Having had a class A commercial license for years, I think that there ought to be at least an indorcement on your license that you take a simple test,like stopping distance,and back up into a space.
    Nothing too difficult but just a little more than here ya go,hit the road!
    Maybe it could save a life or two if everyone knew what they were doing

    1. PeteD

      I agree. I remember “learning” to drive a motor home. There are many basics that could be taught in parking lots of dealers such as how to make safe turns. Simple things like how to judge where you are in your lane would be helpful. I remember buying a little gauge I put on the windshield I could refer to so I knew if I was centered in my lane. I don’t think a separate license is necessary but an endorsement showing you learned some basic skills would be helpful.

  12. Richard

    Over in Europe they have had a requirement for a driving test for ANY trailer for a long time now. Why people think they can safely drive/ tow an RV or large trailer safely without any training is amazing. There are a lot of drivers who think that just because they can drive a car / SUV/ pickup truck while drinking a soda and talking on the phone must be good enough to enable them to drive an RV ?
    America has some of the worst driving bad habits in the world which they carry over to driving their RV’s. DUI, ” hey don’t worry man, there isn’t a cop around here for miles” . Text messaging while driving, “yes this message IS a lot more important than your life”, Speed limits ” they are just a suggestion, aren’t they?” 75 mph in an RV ? ” they must be safe at that speed or they wouldn’t sell them, would they ?” Lets not forget about the pickup truck drivers with the 30 foot long goose neck trailers loaded with a 20,000 pound backhoes !
    Driving tests for anything other than an auto should be mandatory and renewable at 65 year old, 70 and 75 then with a medical at 80. Just for information, I took my USA driving test 5 years ago (62 yo) and asked to take a non commercial CDI. Was told we don’t have that test. Go figure.

  13. Peter Morgenstern

    I think that it should initially be the responsiblity of the retailer selling the rv to evaluate the owners ability to drive or haul any rv . Have a road test required before they buy and a course that will explain the things needed to safely drive or haul a rv. For instance, many people I talk to don’t realise that rv tires are rated at 65 max mph and brag about how well their rv handles at 75. I have seen many drivers who pass me on the interstate going 70-75 with the trailer swaying behind them. Even the class A drivers drive like they are driving the family sedan!. There should be some form of licensing required so that the drivers understand what kind of weapon they are piloting down the road.

    1. George

      The Goodyear Endurance trailer tires have a speed rating of 87 mph. Hopefully they will serve me well as I travel between 58 & 62 mph.

  14. Roy Ellithorpe

    I’m super curious about the 30% who think no special license should ever be required.
    Are they the ones who know how to drive, or the ones who know that they would never pass the test?

    I think that the answer is that ALL RV parks should have ALL 100′ pull throughs, then anybody could do it.

    Just so you don’t all fly off the handle at once, I am kidding.

    1. Joyce R.

      I think this is a great idea. After driving school buses for 29 years, a little pre-driving info would be nice and helpful.

      1. Lyn

        I was a school bus driver in the mid-1980s. Even back then, I had to complete an 80-hour certified driving instruction and safety course before a single child could board my bus. And, I totally agreed with the requirement.

        Driving an SUV or a 1/2-ton pickup does not qualify anyone to operate or pull an RV. It’s a whole different world with different considerations, and we need to be armed with that knowledge before getting behind the wheel.

        I absolutely think a special license should be required. Frankly, I’d feel a lot safer out there if I knew that everyone else had gone through the special license process, too!

  15. BO

    Perhaps we should be asking this question to those non-RV drivers who share the road with us?

  16. Sherry

    Length isn’t the only consideration. Driving a Class C is not as difficult as driving a Class A. Towing a trailer or fifth wheel takes different skills than driving a motorhome. Adding a tow vehicle to a motorhome changes the dynamic. And, as others have pointed out, weight matters. So there would need to be multiple classes of licenses.

  17. Captn John

    Just another money maker for states. Too much regulation on everything we do already. Dealers should have a form to sign stating they informed the buyer about safety items and items like braking, wide turns, and etc.

    1. TravelingMan

      That’s NEVER going to happen! It’s buyer beware!

      I polled several RV Dealerships…Not 1 stated that they knew you had to have a Class A license. They stated that if that were true, then they would be out of business as no one would get a license. Then, I showed them in writing. They played stupid…Go figure. Have you ever met a car dealer you trust? RV dealers are worse.

  18. J. Cherry

    In Texas it’s not the length, but the weight. If your RV (combined, truck/trailer/tow vehicle, etc) weighs 26,001 lb then you need a non commercial class B license. You take the computerize permit test first and then you take the behind the wheel test, and no they don’t make you parallel park.

    When you study for the test study Chapter 14. I would recommend studying chapters 1, 7, 9 and 11, if my memory serves me well. This is much more helpful about how to drive safely on the highways. Chapter 14 has nothing to do with driving an RV; and therefore, my husband found the test to be bogus.

    You are right, the states don’t enforce the laws. However, if you are in an accident your insurance company does not have to cover you if you are not licensed properly for your vehicle for the state you are licensed in. So give that some serious thought. Check your states requirements. The RV sales person isn’t going to give you any of that information at your sale.

    We are considering a dash cam too. A few idiots have pulled out in front of us and then slow down below the speed limit. I think they were hoping to get rear ended. I heard this is a new trend nowadays.

    1. TravelingMan

      One addition…If you have the RV over 10,000 lbs, you are required to obtain a Class A license. It’s either or…

      1. TravelingMan

        From the Texas CDL Book:

        Any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more, provided the gross vehicle weight rating of the vehicle or vehicles towed exceeds 10,000 pounds:

        Who is exempt from a CDL? (Certification form CDL-2 required)

        Persons operating the following vehicles are exempt from a Commercial Drivers License:

        4. A recreational vehicle that is driven for personal use.

        What that means is that a Class A is still required. It’s just not a Commercial CDL.

  19. Dick and Sandy

    Many states already have laws on the books for requirements of vehicles, including RV’s of certain lengths and or weight. However many states do not enforce those laws on a regular basis. But, if you get into an accident with one of those RV’s that have those laws, you will learn about them too late.

    Same goes with each states pet health requirements. Cross a state line and the laws for RV’s, pets and others laws change but are usually not enforced until something other like a traffic infraction is involved. Everyone should know at least their own home states laws concerning RV and pet requirements.

  20. TravelingMan

    Texas already requires a NON-CDL ( No Medical required) license that must be obtained when towing in excess of 10,000 lbs trailer weight or a Gross Combined Weight Rating of 26,001 lbs.

    How many folks are out there (in Texas alone) that are using a Class C license for this?

    Is this particular test is adequate? H-NO. It was a joke and easy to pass. It doesn’t prove you know anything about your RV axles, weight ratings, tire ratings, wheels, braking systems, sway bars, chains or the like. The driver’s test did include a quick trip around the block along with parallel parking. Parallel parking….REALLY? How many people are going to take a 40′ rig downtown and have to parallel park? I don’t think the DPS even knows what is involved with driving and parking an RV! When asked to parallel park, I asked how many points would that take away if I failed it or refused to do it…It was nothing. The DPS did state that if I touch or hit the curb though, I would flunk the test and have to reschedule. I had practiced this stupid maneuver that I will never use multiple times. It was a no brainer but just so that I didn’t have to come back with the 42’/18,000 lb rig, I deliberately parked 5′ off the curb so that I did not hit it. They required 18″ or less.

    For those driving Class A Motorhomes, there are air brakes to consider. How many folks jump into the Motorhome knowing nothing about those?

    For those that do not know if they need a special license or not, check out this RVIA link:

    https://www.rvia.org/system/files/media/file/Special Drivers License.pdf

    In addition, check out what happens to your Insurance Policy towing a vehicle illegally. I’ve served on a jury duty case involving improper licensing. It did not turn out well for the individual improperly licensed.

    1. RV Staff

      That link didn’t work, but I think this is the one TravelingMan was referring to: https://www.rvia.org/media/144Diane at RVtravel.com

      1. TravelingMan

        That is the correct link. For some reason, when it was typed in, it did not capture all of the hyperlink together. Once could copy an paste into the browser, but the results are the same. Thanks for fixing that.

        1. RV Staff

          You’re welcome, TravelingMan. I noticed the unlinked portion in your comment but just went ahead and copied in the URL I ended up at. 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com

  21. Tommy Molnar

    I’m on the fence about this. Most anyone can drive their RV down the road in a straight line. The issues come up when trying to get through a fueling stop, back into a campsite, or negotiate tight corners in parks and campgrounds. An RV’er does not need a Commercial Driver’s License. Practice is what makes the difference.

    On a recent trip to Montana, we were headed uphill when a “professional driver” hauling an oversized load coming downhill was well over the double yellow on our side and his HUGE load (a tank of some kind) extended to the middle of our lane. I took to the shoulder, which luckily was very wide) and avoided a disaster. Point being, a license is NO guarantee the driver knows what he’s doing.

    1. TravelingMan

      See other comments but you also bring up another point about mountain driving. With undersized brakes, improper weight/balance conditions, improper tow vehicles.

      And what do people use RV’s for? Camping. Where do many like to go? The mountains.

      And how many drive over 70mph? Do they even have tires rated for that?

      Owning an RV has responsibilities to keep you and everyone on the road safe.

      Why not give a driver’s license to 8 year olds? THERE IS A REASON FOR IT! The same for RV owners!

  22. TravelingMan

    Longer lengths and weights require different reaction times, driving skills and braking distances.

    More important than the driver’s license (since the Driver’s handbook provides none of this) is to require RV Buyer/Owner Training prior to getting an RV license.

    People today NEVER look into what it takes to own, much less drive an RV. They buy on impulse and never educate themselves on what it takes to buy, own or maintain that RV.

    Manufacturers have NO (NONE/NOTTA/NEVER) government regulations. Many RV manufacturers undersized axles and braking systems. And they install tires that just barely meet the minimum weight load BEFORE the would be owners pile tons of cargo on board. The would be owners use tow vehicles that are way undersized for the job. The end results are disastrous for not just them, but others sharing the same road systems.

    ANYTHING over 20′ should require OWNER’s Training first, then driver’s training, then a comprehensive driving test before getting an RV category-rated license. It wouldn’t hurt first time buyers to have to take a required Maintenance training course as well. (When they see the amount of maintenance required, that may change their minds about getting an RV in the first place). There are people out there buying 40′ rigs that weigh 18,000 lbs and trying to tow them with a 1/2 ton Toyota. Crazy! Many never even look at the age, weight rating or pressure of their tires. Another accident just waiting to happen!

    Under 20′ (depending on weight), most can tow with 1/2 pickups.

    20′ to 30′ (depending on weight) may require a 3/4 ton pickup.

    30′ and over (depending on weight) may require at least a 1 ton dually’s or larger vehicles.

    Those towing pop up tents or tow trailers shorter than 15′ could possibly be exempt except for the fact that some owners don’t know the first thing about chains and sway bars.

    So with that, ALL RV Owners should be licensed in accordance with the RV Type. A real pain for sure given that there are less and less Driver’s License Branches that even give driving tests any more….Maybe with the new driverless cars, that will make more room for RV License centers…

  23. Jeff

    Also consider the AGE(s) of the drivers. Many statistical reports available online to confirm Age is a Factor in driving or towing Large RV’s!

  24. Dr4Film ----- Richard

    When a motorized RV or a combo tow vehicle and towed RV attain comparable sizes to commercial vehicles to operate them safely then a CDL should be required.

  25. Drew

    Generally I think rv’ers are a safe group and are aware of the potential hazards of driving an oversized vehicle. On the other hand, drivers of cars and motorcycles should be tested every year- regardless of age or experience. This exam should also include a proficiency (driving) portion with emphasis on critical thinking skills. In addition, deficiencies (traffic tickets and accidents) needs to carry with it some much harsher penalties with respect to driving eligibility. I think this could make our roads much safer and keep our loved ones around longer.

  26. John Whitney

    Length is not the only concern. Weight and air brakes need to be factored in as well. Having lived in Texas, I think their requirements for towing longer and heavier vehicles makes good sense. It basically parallels requirements for CDL, without annual health inspections.

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