Most RVs are not particularly difficult to drive but there are a few things to keep in mind that will make your travels safer and more enjoyable.
The majority of drivers can adapt quite well to the increased size, height, and weight of an RV, but keeping alert, planning ahead, and driving cautiously remain top priority in the safe handling of your vehicle.
Check Lights before Traveling
- Prior to starting your day’s travel check the functioning of all signal lights, 4-way flashers, brake lights, and head lights
- Adjust the side-view mirrors to barely see the side of your RV
- Adjust the convex mirrors to include blind spots, keeping in mind that distances may be distorted
- Check your mirrors every 30 seconds
- Ensure that you’re driving within the painted lines
- Be aware of the traffic behind you and whether they are keeping up with you, preparing to pass, or falling back
Look Well Ahead
- DO NOT overdrive your visibility
- 90% of all driving decisions are visual based
Leave Yourself an Out
- Determine the lane of least resistance and safety
- Maintain safe following distances
- Leave room to change lanes when stopping behind another vehicle
- Is there a way out of here?
- DO NOT drive your RV into any place that you can’t see a way out of—especially if that RV is a large motorhome towing a car
Navigating Large Cities
- Plan your trip in advance so that you can avoid going through large cities during morning or late afternoon rush hour
- The best time to drive through major cities is early Sunday morning—during the workweek, you’re best to travel between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Follow the Rule of 20 Percent
- Fully loaded RVs have slower acceleration and take longer to come to a full stop than autos
- To compensate, add 20 percent to everything you do, from increasing your following distance and judging if you have enough clearance to safely merging into traffic.
Know & Post Your Height, Width & Length
- A major insurance claim is RVs hitting gas station overhangs, underpasses, and bridges
Solution: Post your exterior height, width, and total length in the motorhome or tow vehicle where it can easily be seen while driving
Height: Measure to the highest point such as air conditioner or satellite dish
Width: Measure to the outermost points such as mirrors, awnings, or handles
Length: Measure from the front of the vehicle to the end of the towed vehicle or trailer
One Hour Rest Stop Walk-Around
Visually inspect your tow hitch connections and check for overheated and low tires every time you stop at a rest stop or refueling location. Pranksters have been known to remove pins from the hitch. Perform a walk-around that covers these visual points:
- Check to ensure that tires have not overheated
- Check tow bar or hitch and safety cables
- Ensure that hitch pins or bolts are still in place
- Check to ensure that the wiring harness is connected securely
- Look under the chassis for signs of oil or coolant leaks
- Check storage bay doors
- Turn signals are valuable for communicating your intentions to other drivers; if you don’t signal, other drivers have no way of knowing what you plan to do
- In an emergency pull completely off the road and use emergency flashers, flares, or some other emergency signaling device to warn oncoming traffic
Remember, Safety Is No Accident
Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson