Driving a large vehicle can be a little intimidating at first. Whether it’s an 8 passenger sport utility vehicle, a U-Haul for a move, or a bus driving a big vehicle can be different to manuever. Add liability issues and driving a U-Haul in a stressful situation and the difficulty adds up.
Yes, RVs do drive differently from passenger vehicles. They certainly can get into accidents. RV accidents do tend to be safer both for the RV passengers and the other driver, assuming there is one.
RVs come with a unique set of challenges for driving. We wouldn’t say it’s hard to drive an RV, but there are a few things you can do to make it easier. RVs are certainly built differently from passenger vehicles, but you’ll get used to it.
Do you remember when you first got your permit to drive a passenger vehicle? Your state probably required a certain number of driving hours with a parent, with a driving instructor. You may have also been asked to drive a number of hours at night or on the highway.
Practice makes better. Go and drive your RV during non peak hours or at night to get used to the feeling. Make what you see in the side mirrors part of your muscle memory.
Making turns in an RV & Off tracking
Taking turns is different in an RV. Every RV is a bit different, but your rear tires and front tires do what’s called off-tracking. All vehicles do this!
Off tracking literally means that the rear tires do not follow the same path as the front tires. The amount of off-tracking depends on how sharp the wheels can turn and the wheelbase of the RV.
Off tracking means you have to plan your turns, especially tight ones, more than a traditional car. Turning requires a bit more room than driving a small SUV though its absolutely doable and positive.
How do you get used to off tracking? The good news again is that your current vehicle does this to a lesser extent. The answer? Practice! Drive around a parking lot, maybe even with cones to build your confidence and muscle memory.
The overhang refers to the parts of the vehicle behind the rear axle. The overhanging part of your vehicle will swing out during a turn. This is also the part of an RV most likely to be damaged simply because it’s easy to miss.
Driving around corners with an overhang simply requires practice. Cones are a good place to start with practice as they are made of plastic, and won’t manage the vehicle itself.
It’s a different learning process than a vehicle. Passenger vehicles tend to have just a trunk behind the rear wheels. The overhang on an RV can be longer and add to an already long wheelbase.
More weight takes a longer time to slow down. Give the vehicles in front of you more following distance than you would with a regular passenger vehicle. Ensure you have good working brakes to make stopping quickly and safely possible.
Drivers follow different rules depending on the speed limit, their vehicles, and honestly how daring they are. Give some distance when traveling full speed in an RV and more if the weather conditions aren’t great.
Blind spots are just a bit different on RVs. You have a significantly larger potential blind spot on an RV simply because of the length of the vehicle.
RVs to tend to have larger camper mirrors that show most of the side of your vehicle. In addition to definitely using your mirrors and signaling, slowly move over to the next lane when you switch in case you uncover something unexpected.
In case you need the, consider getting blind spot mirrors at your parts store or RV dealer. They help a lot to keep everything in view.
Manueverability of RVs
The ease of driving an RV depends on the RV itself. The easiest way to know which is going to be easiest to drive for you is to try several. Different lengths will feel different.
You might find that an RV with a couple extra feet of length is more difficult to drive, but worth it for the additional space. If you are an experienced large vehicle driver, a big RV might fit right in with your driving style.
The answer depends on your needs and the training you want to put in to ensure a smooth driving experience.
Speed Limits and Laws
Some states and highway have different speed limits for larger vehicles. Watch for signs that indicate that you should be traveling at a different speed than passenger traffic.
Parking lots are also different. Don’t try to just park your RV in a spot, even it’s small enough. Pull through when possible so you can backup much easier.
Wind can be a bigger factor when maneuvering a motor home. Be even more attentive when driving on a windy day for the safety of your passengers and other traffic.
You probably won’t drive a recreational vehicle much differently in the snow than you would a passenger car. Go slow. Take your time.
Driving an RV can be a different experience than driving a passenger vehicle at first. Paying attention and getting some experience driving an RV before really hitting the road are hugely beneficial. We have offered more than a few other suggestions that vary based on your motor home.
The key word is practice! Get out there and drive when traffic isn’t bad – make some turns in a big parking lot and get the nerves out. Then go have fun traveling with your own kitchen and bed – it’ll be fun!