If you’ve ever wanted to be the captain of your very own boat, but the thought of riding the waves makes you a little nauseous, then an RV might be just right for you. Driving what essentially amounts to an apartment complex on wheels is a lot of fun and a great way to explore America’s highways. However, there are a few things you’re going to have to understand before you feel comfortable barreling down the freeway in 6+ tons of twinky-shaped steel. It would be a good idea to take a defensive driving course before hitting the road so you can learn a few of the basics. Here are seven additional safety tips to help you on your way.
- First things first. Although it might feel as light as a feather when you get it out on the open road, the truth is that your RV is incredibly heavy. That means that you’ll be needing some extra distance between you and whatever vehicle is in front of you. Play it safe and be sure to stay several car lengths back. Also, give yourself plenty of stopping distance for things like intersections and crosswalks.
- Wide vehicles can be difficult to keep in the center of a lane, especially for inexperienced drivers. A great way to get a feel for where your RV sits on the road is to make a small mark on the side of your windshield and then manoeuvre the vehicle so that the mark lines up with the fogline from your point of view in the driver’s seat. Exit the vehicle (make sure you do this on a deserted road so as not to inconvenience other drivers), and make a note of where this reference places the RV on the road. Adjust the mark and try again, until your RV is in the center of the lane. This may not seem like an important exercise when you’re enjoying wide lanes and empty roads, but as soon as you find yourself in construction zones or surrounded by cars in a traffic jam, you’ll be glad you took the time.
- Know exactly how tall the RV is, and be sure to watch for any low clearance structures such as bridges, signs, or even some power lines. If you misjudge the height and get jammed up under an overpass… well, just watch the video.
- When you’re merging, be aware that other drivers might become impatient with your large vehicle, and that may lead them to make unwise decisions. Physics is pretty clear about what happens when a smaller body smacks into a large one while traveling at high speeds, but that doesn’t prevent some people from risking their lives to save a few minutes on their commute. So, be the better driver and keep your eyes constantly open. With practice, you’ll learn how to keep your attention on every direction at once.
- Making turns in your RV requires a lot more room then it would in a regular car. If you cut it too tight, you could find your back wheels clipping the curb, ripping out shrubbery, or even plowing over signs. The problem is the RV’s length, and the solution is pulling farther out into an intersection before beginning the turn. Be careful, because some smaller cars may not be familiar with the necessary turning radius for RVs, and might attempt to pass on the side while you’re turning.
- A large rig such as an RV requires a lot of energy to get up to speed. It also creates massive amounts of wind resistance. However, once you get up to speed, it becomes more difficult to slow down, and you’ll more easily pick up speed on downhill slopes. Take all of this into account, and be prepared to shell out some serious cash at the gas pumps.
- When it comes to parking, it’s better to find a few empty spaces farther from the entrance than to attempt to shoehorn your RV into a spot between two cars and then have to crawl out the window. Also, RVs are not emergency vehicles, so don’t park them along red painted curbs.
With just a little bit of time behind the wheel, you’ll get the hang of driving RVs. Just take it slow, pay attention, and above all, be safe. It would also be a good idea to plan out your trip in detail before hand. Here’s a list of 10 Road Trip Stops For Nashville Music Lovers you might want to check out if you’re a country music fan. Have fun!