Important Advice for People Who Drive RVs

Updated on July 5, 2017
TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

I have traveled extensively throughout the US for many years and enjoy helping people to enjoy their own vacations.

If you own a recreational vehicle, it is important that you learn what you need to do to have the skills for driving it safely and effectively.

Far too many people assume that because they handle an automobile well, the same will be true of a camper, travel trailer or motor home.

This attitude is one that can to the types of expensive and dangerous problems that should be avoided at all costs.

To do this, RV owners should seriously consider taking the following steps.

Make sure you match your abilities to the type of RV you plan to drive.
Make sure you match your abilities to the type of RV you plan to drive. | Source

Be Realistic About Your RV Driving Ability

People who find themselves standing on the interstate beside their overturned camping units, lying on stretchers as they are put into ambulances after their accidents, or watching as their motor homes burn to ashes on the side of the road because they took a turn too fast, are those who took their driving skills for granted.

They thought that because they knew how to drive a car, those skills would automatically transfer to their ability to drive an RV.

As a result of this mistake, they became dangerous to themselves and others.

The lesson here is that if you own an RV you should assume nothing and learn everything you can about driving it safely before you ever leave your driveway.

Match Your Skills to Your Vehicle

It is common for people to assume that they have the ability to drive any travel unit, but the truth is that thinking this way is what gets them into trouble.

To be safe, you should always buy a coach that is comfortable for you to drive.

For example, although I've been traveling for many years, I set my personal limit at driving a truck that tows a fifth-wheeler. I would never attempt to drive a large Class A motor home.

I leave that job to my husband, who

  • was a cross-country trucker for many years,
  • has driven more than a million miles without an accident and
  • clearly knows how to handle big rigs!

Making sure you have good driving skills is the best way to stay safe when RVing.
Making sure you have good driving skills is the best way to stay safe when RVing. | Source

Learn How to Drive Your Coach

It is unfortunate that state governments do not require special training or licensing requirements for people who buy recreational vehicles, even though they do require them for cross country truckers.

As a result, people falsely assume that it's OK to start driving a rig immediately after purchasing one, even though they may never have driven one before and even though many are as large as semi trucks.

Therefore, it is up to the individual to make sure that he gets the training he needs and the practice he should have in order to be safe when traveling.

There are two ways for people to learn to drive their units safely:

  1. attend a professionally run, in-depth and complete RV driver safety class or
  2. find an experienced RV owner who is willing to actually take you out on the highway and teach you to drive, back up and park your RV.

No matter who teaches you, the important thing to remember is that the best teacher is experience.

The more you practice, the more your skills will improve and the safer you will be when you drive your recreational vehicle.

It's extremely important for RV owners to practice safe driving techniques.

Use Safe RV Driving Techniques

Here are some common sense RV driving tips that will help to keep you safe when you're on the road.

  1. Practice driving your coach before you start out on a vacation.
  2. Make sure all passengers remain seated while your coach is in motion.
  3. Keep animals restrained so that they do not become driving hazards.
  4. Drive in the center lane if there is one. If not, stay in the right line.
  5. Keep speed between 55 and 60 mph. It's better to take longer than to have an accident because you were speeding.
  6. Use a rear camera monitor made specifically for RV use.
  7. Do not distract yourself by doing such things as eating, texting or reading when you're driving.
  8. Be extremely careful when entering or leaving gas stations or truck stops. Turn wide and slow, and always keep an eye out for traffic.
  9. Don't slam on your breaks. If you need to stop, slow down first and pump your breaks a bit at a time. This will make stopping easier and will help you to avoid accidents.
  10. Learn how to use your side mirrors as well as your rear view camera.
  11. Take rest breaks every two hours or less. This will ease mental and physical stress and will also refresh you so that you will be more alert when driving.
  12. If you have a second skilled driver, share the driving with them.

Remember, with an RV, the trip is part of the vacation. There is no need to rush.

Rushing causes all sorts of problem and reduces safety.

The Result of Poor RV Driving Skills

Take RV Driving Safety Seriously

It is extremely important for RV owners to take their driving skills and knowledge seriously.

Doing this makes driving more comfortable and improves the chances for traveler safety.

Following the safe RV driving tips mentioned in this article takes a little time and work, but it is well worth the effort.

  • Recreational vehicles are expensive, so you should want to do everything you can to make sure they don't get into accidents.
  • Your family is even more important, so the best way to protect them is to make sure you have the skills you need to keep them safe when you are traveling.

Your goal should always be to put safety first. Being a responsible RV driver is the best way for you to do that, and it's also the best way for you to be able to enjoy your vacations.

Do you think it's important to take a Certified RV Driver Training Class?

See results

© 2016 Sondra Rochelle

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  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image
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    Sondra Rochelle 16 months ago from USA

    dalyn88: Yes, and maybe even a special endorsement on a driver's license as well as a DOT driving test. This would be an inconvenience, for sure, but it could save many lives. Thanks for reading and commenting. I think what you wrote is important for people to read.

  • profile image

    dalyn88 16 months ago

    I was a transport driver for many years including train units of gasoline products. Accident free as well, therefore I feel very qualified to drive a class A which I own that is 34 ft less than half the length of many units I pulled when driving Tractor Trailers. I do agree any driver that has not driven anything larger than a car or pick up truck be required to take a short intensive course.

  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image
    Author

    Sondra Rochelle 16 months ago from USA

    Blond Logic: I don't believe taking a certified RV driving course lowers insurance rates as it does with automobiles, but check with your insurer to make sure. I'm amazed you were able to drive that rig so far without incident, but thank goodness you did. There are a lot of strange things when it comes to buying, owning and driving RVs, which is one of the reasons I write these articles. It's my small way of trying to keep people aware of the issues. So nice to see you again!

  • Blond Logic profile image

    Mary Wickison 16 months ago from Brazil

    I must say I was guilty of this. We traveled from California to Florida with two vehicles. Our driver left (unplanned) us in Louisiana and I had to drive a 42 foot RV the rest of the way. Thankfully I had very little traffic and no incidents.

    I think RVs are an excellent way to travel but because of the comfort of driving, it is easy to forget the potential dangers.

    Your advice is excellent with regards to extra training. I would have never thought of asking a big rig driver to help but it makes sense. They are probably more experienced than anyone on the road and know how to handle situations which might arise.

    If you take a certified training class does this reflect in a reduction of insurance rates, do you know?

    It does boggle the mind that with all the red tape, bureaucracy, and litigation which takes place in the US, that the laws aren't in place to require drivers to take classes to handle them. I suppose it is the power of the motor industry at play there.