If you've never driven an RV before, it can be a little intimidating. After all, it's not every day that you drive an up to 30+ ft. vehicle at high speeds. But with caution, preparedness, and a lot of practice, you’ll become comfortable driving your RV and you won’t be a newbie for long. Below are a few tips to help you get comfortable driving your new RV.
1. Get to Know Your RV
Before setting off on your first RV road trip, practice, practice, practice! Drive it on side streets, in parking lots, and get to know important details about your rig. This comes in handy when you’re on the road and in case of emergencies.
Before you hit the road, at the minimum you should know:
- Your RV’s height. To clear bridges, navigate rural areas with low trees, or even pull up to gas stations, you must know the height of your RV.
- How much weight it can hold. This is helpful when you pack up for a trip.
- What fuel to use. Check your owner’s manual to see which fuel is recommended by the manufacturer and how much your tank can hold. Furthermore, check which side your gas tank is on so you can stop at a gas station without any embarrassing mistakes.
- How your systems work. How many amps can your main breaker handle? How do you assemble and disassemble your sewer hoses? Where are the water hookups? Do you use blocks or jacks for stabilizing? You should understand how each system of your RV works before you drive it.
Knowing the basics of how your RV works can help you better prepare for emergencies and make minor fixes on the road. Once you know these things, it’s time to practice your driving.
2. Take Turns Slowly and Carefully
Whether you have a motorhome, fifth wheel, or travel trailer, your rig will be longer and wider than a car. Think about how you might make a right turn in a small 2-door car, and how that’s different when you’re making a right turn in a storage truck. When turning your RV, take your time and take it as wide as you can. This is especially important when making right turns since you’ll be going around a curb. Watch your mirrors and turn slowly.
3. Give Yourself Extra Space When Braking
Braking in an RV takes longer than braking in an average car. Give yourself plenty of room between you the vehicle in front of you before applying your brakes. Because of its size and weight, your RV will take longer to stop. If you don’t maintain a safe distance from the car in front of you before braking, you might rear-end them. Also, because your RV is larger than most other vehicles, you want to give the people behind you time to react to your stop or turn, since they can't see around you.
When braking in slippery conditions, be extra cautious and allow even more room between you and the vehicle in front of you. Many motorhomes and RVs use air brakes, and the anti-lock braking system may not be as effective as the one in your car.
4. Use a Spotter to Help You Park
If you can’t see clearly around your RV when parking, stop and have someone get out to help you. It’s better to be safe and use a spotter than to risk damaging your RV and the property around it when parking. Go slowly, use your mirrors, and communicate with your spotter. If you don’t think you can park in a narrow space, play it safe and find an area with more room where you can park more easily.
5. Practice, Practice, Practice
Yes, we said it again! The best way to get comfortable driving your RV is to practice as much as you can! Practice turning, braking, parking, and driving on the roads you’ll be taking the most. If you live in a hilly area or will be driving on switchbacks, practice driving on those roads. Then driving your RV will start to feel like second nature, and you can truly enjoy every moment of your RV adventures.
6. Prepare for Emergencies With RV Roadside Assistance
One of the most important things new RV drivers must have is an RV-specific roadside assistance plan. No matter how well you know your RV and how much you practice driving it, a backup plan like Good Sam Roadside Assistance can give you peace of mind should an accident or breakdown happen. Good Sam Roadside Assistance is perfect for travelers of all types, especially new RVers.
Disclaimer: Motor club benefits and services provided by Americas Road & Travel Club, Inc. for Members residing in Alaska, Alabama, Utah and Virginia; and by Affinity Road & Travel Club, LLC for Members residing in all other States. Note: All program benefits and services are subject to limitations set forth in the current Member Benefit Brochures and will be sent to you upon approval of your membership.