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How to Improve Your RV Driving Skills

Updated on August 12, 2016

If you think you have good RV driving skills, here's a short quiz for you:

1. Are you (or were you ever) an RV owner?
2. Are you a safe driver?
3. Have you ever taken a defensive driving course for RV owners?

If you answered "yes" to all three questions, I applaud you.

If you answered "yes" to 1 and 2 but "no" to number 3, how do you know that the answer you gave for question 2 is correct?

You don't!

The only way for you to really know whether your driving skills are sufficient to protect you on the road is to

  • make safe RV driving a priority,
  • understand all of the rules,
  • find an experienced, trained large-vehicle driver to teach you how to drive your unit and
  • practice your skills with him at your side.

To do anything less is to put you, your loved ones, other drivers and your finances at great risk.

The guidelines below will help you to improve so that you can protect yourself and your family when driving your motor home, travel trailer or camper.

Driving an RV is different from driving a car.  Make sure your skills are up to date before leaving on your next RV vacation.
Driving an RV is different from driving a car. Make sure your skills are up to date before leaving on your next RV vacation. | Source

Do Not Overestimate Your Driving Skills

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 a motor home or camper, you should assume nothing and learn everything you can about driving it safely before you ever leave your driveway.

Match Your RV to Your Skills

There are many types, sizes, and shapes of RV’s.

  • The smaller ones, such as the van types, are fairly easy to drive because they are not much bigger than regular-sized vans.
  • However, the big rigs require practice, skill, experience, and vigilance.

These units are not ones that beginners should try to drive because they are too long, high, heavy, and bulky for inexperienced drivers to handle safely.

Before buying any RV, take your driving abilities and experience into consideration.Overestimating your skills leads to intimidation, and intimidation leads to accidents.

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!

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

Do Not Be Fooled By Lax RV Driver Licensing Laws

People usually are so excited when they finally close the deal on an RV that they forget how important it is to make sure they know how to drive it.

All too often people who have never driven anything larger than a car, truck, or van purchase an RV and drive out of the dealership without realizing that trouble is awaiting them. They falsely assume that if the law does not have special licensing requirements for them to drive big rigs, they are OK to do so.

The truth is that there currently are no laws that require special training or licensing for driving or towing large camping vehicles. Many of these units are as large as the vehicles driven daily by cross country truckers, whom the law does require to have special training and licensing!

Many dealerships encourage immediate owner drive-offs, but they well know that it is irresponsible and dangerous to put a unit on the road before its owner knows how to drive it.

To cover themselves, some provide one-day driver training courses and provide certificates of completion. Most people who have taken such courses will tell you that they are a waste of time because there is no real one-on-one, in-depth, lengthy training.

The Results of Poor RV Driving Skills

Get The Best Possible Road Training Available

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

The most obvious one is for them to attend a professionally run, in-depth and complete RV driver safety class. Your local highway patrol can suggest licensed, credible, government-run defensive driver training classes that are specially designed to teach RV owners how to drive their units.

Another method is to 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.

If you cannot find an RV owner to teach you, find a trained, professional big rig driver who can teach you what you need to learn. Many firefighters have these skills, are also RV owners, and are always looking for ways to make some extra money.

No matter who teaches you, however, 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 travel.

Drive Safely And Enjoy Your Travels

It is extremely important for RV owners to gain the knowledge they need before heading down the road.

Ask yourself if you truly know how to drive your RV. If you do not, it's never too late to learn.

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

When you head out for your next trip, you want to know that you'll enjoy it and return home in one piece so that you can take another vacation later!

What type of RV do you feel is the right type for you to drive based on your own abilities?

See results


Submit a Comment

  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

    TIMETRAVELER2 7 months ago

    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 7 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

    TIMETRAVELER2 7 months ago

    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 7 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.

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