RV Driving Tips for New Drivers

Driving Tips

Driving an RV or a motorhome is very different from driving a car and once you start driving you will quickly begin to realize that towing or driving an RV is nothing like driving a car or even a truck.
As a first-time owner or even an experienced RV driver, you should learn as much driving RV as possible so that you are prepared for every scenario from tight turns to backing into small parking spaces.
Here are some top driving tips for new drivers of RVs and motorhomes to check out before hitting the road.

Go Slow The first tip when driving or towing an RV is to go slow. Unlike other drivers, who are usually rushing to get to their destinations, you’re taking your time. Owning and driving an RV or a motorhome is supposed to be a leisurely experience, so going slow is all part of the package.
It is recommended to always drive around the 63 miles per hour mark and never exceed 65 miles per hour. Don’t worry about impatient drivers around you – drive at the speed limit and stay in the slow lane. Driving at a leisurely speed will also give you better gas mileage.

Keep Far Right Unless you’re driving outside of the US, motorists should stick to the right lane when driving. If you are driving an RV, this is generally the rule of the road. Motorhomes and RVs are large, lumbering vehicles and it is safer for everyone on the road if they stick to the right lane. Driving in the right-hand lane also allows you to be close to the shoulder should you have any mechanical issues and gives you the best visual access from your driver’s side mirror. But, an exception to the rule may be traveling in the center lane on a multi-lane highway. We have found in our travels the lane overall is wider and the center lane allows you to change lanes for upcoming exits on the right or left-side of the highway easier.

Adjust your mirrors

Adjust Your Mirrors It is very important to always have an eye on the rear of your vehicle at all times. Before heading off on any trip, adjust all your mirrors so that you have a clear vision of the rear of your RV from all angles. But, don’t hyper-focus on the rear of your RV and not also focus on the road in front of you.

Measure height & length

Know Your Literal Limits A RV is a large vehicle and it’s important to know the limits of the vehicle from the width to the height. Your road trip may take you to a range of different locations from narrow overpasses to low tunnels and you don’t want to be worrying whether your RV will fit under that tunnel or be too wide for that overpass.
Take the measurements of your RV before you go. Measure the width and the height and keep these in mind when driving through tunnels and overpasses. We printed a small label and stuck it to our GPS so when we get into a situation you are unsure, you look at the label for direction. If you do happen to come across a tunnel or overpass with less clearance than your vehicle allows, use your GPS to find another route to avoid getting stuck.

Understand Your Tail Swing The tail swing of a motorhome or an RV is “the distance that the body of the RV behind the pivot point moves in the opposite direction of the front when you turn.” If your RV is made up of two parts – the cab which is the shorter part of the vehicle and the coach, which is the longest part. The coach will not turn at the same time that the front of the RV does, so you will need to calculate your exact tail swing to accommodate and plan for that distance gap.
The best way to do this is to find an empty street or parking lot and have another person watch as you turn to calculate the tail swing. Park the vehicle flush with a painted white line and use the white line as a reference point for turning. Depending on the size of your RV and how tightly you turn, average tail swings are between 18 and 30 inches (more or less). The more you practice, the more you’ll get comfortable with making tight and loose turns.

Keep your distance

Keep Your Distance Always stay at least 400 to 500 feet from the vehicle in front of you. If you aren’t sure how far that is, count four to six seconds – this should give you enough time to brake over a minimum distance without worrying other drivers on the road.

Know When to Brake While this may seem like an obvious tip, braking in an RV is very different from braking in a car. The average campervan packed with gear weighs over 7,000 pounds and you need to account for this when braking. There are no such things as sudden stops – you need to be alert and conscientious at all times. If you have to brake for any reason, you must plan it out well in advance. It’s going to take time for your vehicle to roll to a complete stop, so you must make sure the path in front of you is always clear.

Be a Courteous Driver It’s always a good idea to be courteous on the road, and when you are driving a large vehicle like an RV or a motorhome, it’s even more important! If you know you have a left turn coming up in a few hundred feet, flip your left turn signal on early and slowly begin to move over to the left lane. This will give other drivers on the road plenty of time to move out of your way.

As with anything in life, practice makes perfect – or close to! Practice, Practice, Practice. Driving an RV is just the same – the more you drive it, the better you will become. Focus on wide turns, parallel and perpendicular parking, and other tricky driving maneuvers, and practice these until you feel confident doing them.

We hope you found these tips helpful!

Dora & Ed

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