Some first-time RV owners can't wait to jump into the driver's seat and launch a new lifestyle, while others can't help feeling intimidated by the sheer size of a Type-A motor coach. If you've never driven one before, you may wonder how to drive such an enormous vehicle safely.
Fortunately, many of the common-sense defensive driving tactics that apply to smaller vehicles also apply to full-sized RVs. Even so, it pays to understand some special circumstances and challenges that might encounter. Here are some helpful safe driving considerations for new RV drivers.
First-time RV drivers may wonder how to avoid getting stuck or scraping your roof beneath an unexpected low bridge or other overhang. The answer lies in knowing both your vehicle height and your route before you hit the road.
Measure your RV to obtain its actual height, write the measurement down, and keep it handy inside the cabin for quick reference. When you see a clearance height listed on an overhang, assume that you actually have six inches less. Repeated repaving over many years may have rendered the sign inaccurate.
Modern technology can help you plan your entire road trip to minimize clearance issues. Look for a route-planning app that includes thousands of low-clearance warnings and can provide safe route suggestions with the aid of your smartphone's GPS capabilities.
If driving your RV in crowded daytime traffic makes you nervous at first, you may find nighttime driving a less stressful way to get accustomed to the feel of your new vehicle. At the same time, however, the limited visibility at night should spur you to take some extra safety measures.
Many full-sized RVs come with an impressive array of fog lights in addition to their headlights, tail lights, and warning lights. Keep these lights running when driving at night. They make your RV more visible to other traffic from a greater distance while also illuminating more of the road.
Front visibility is important in an RV because it requires more time to reach a controlled stop than a car or truck. You need to see obstacles in your way as early as possible, so run your brights except for when you come into range of another car.
You can reduce the necessary stopping distance for your RV simply by maintaining a slightly slower speed than you would for daytime driving. For instance, if you normally drive 65 miles per hour on a particular stretch of road, if you reduce your speed by just five miles per hour, you can shave 50 feet off of your stopping distance.
Driving in wet, icy, or windy weather can prove significantly more challenging in an RV than in a smaller vehicle. Thankfully, the fact that you have the equivalent of an entire home with you means that you can sit comfortably and wait for the weather to improve. Choose this approach as your first option when possible.
If you need to drive through rain, avoid puddles or low water crossings. A deceptively deep body of water can cause your RV to hydroplane. If you face this problem, don't slam your brakes; simply lower your speed and give the RV a chance to regain its traction.
Tall vehicles such as RVs have a relatively high center of gravity. High winds pushing against the sides of your RV may make it more difficult to control. If you must drive through a high wind, try to drive directly into the wind as much as possible. This strategy will help keep side winds from buffeting the RV.
You may worry that an extremely high wind could actually topple your RV. Rest assured that winds usually have to exceed 115 miles per hour before they can flip an RV over according to RV LIFE. If you feel unsafe nonetheless, simply pull over and park. A parked RV has greater stability in the face of high winds.
Your new adventure as an RV driver begins with the selection of the ideal RV for your needs. Contact The Motorcoach Store to learn more about your options.