Whether you’re a seasoned RV driver or a complete newbie, there are always challenges that come with handling a recreational vehicle. However, with a little guidance and practice driving, you can easily tackle any road-related obstacles that come your way. Here are our top driving tips to help you – especially if you’re behind the wheel of your RV for the first time!
What are some important tips for driving an RV?
Before you hit the road, it’s a good idea to make sure you’ve got all your legal ducks in a row. So check your license!
While all states are different, in general, large RV (anything over 26,000 lbs) require a special license to drive, whereas most smaller RVs do not. Again, your state may have different requirements, so be sure to check them before you start your RV vacation!
When you’re cruising down the highway in your RV headed for those national parks, it’s easy to feel like king of the road. It would be pretty hard to forget the fact that you’re not driving a tiny sedan – but keep in mind your vehicle’s general dimensions at all times.
Simple: you need to make sure your RV will fit through tunnels or be able to safely navigate overpasses. Check your RV’s gross vehicle weight and height before hitting the open road so you don’t run into any tight squeezes.
Know Your Turning Radius
One of the biggest challenges for new RV drivers is turning. It’s easy to miscalculate how much room you’re going to need to round a corner, but you don’t want to end up on a curb or hitting another vehicle.
Before you set out on your first adventure, take some time practicing your turns, and working with your side mirror (parking lots are great for practice!) so you can know intuitively where your vehicle’s turning radius is and how to work with it.
In general, because RVs are longer than a typical car, you’ll have to pull farther forward in an intersection before you begin your actual turn. And remember to always take it slow!
Hit the Brakes
Even something as simple as braking is different in an RV. Because you’re in such a big, heavy vehicle, you’ll need more time and distance when making stops. Keep a good, healthy cushion of space between you and vehicles in front of you, and remember that you can also downshift to slow yourself down before actually applying the brakes.
Keep to the Right
It’s easy to zone out and just cruise the left lane, but if you do that in an RV, you’re asking for trouble.
The right lane is for larger, slower-moving vehicles – and that means you! Stick to the right lane as much as possible to make it easier for other cars to pass you. Not only is it courteous, but it also means you have quick access to the highway shoulder in case of any issues.
Watch Your Speed
An RV trip is supposed to be fun and relaxing – not a competitive Nascar race.
The recommended top speed for RVs is 65 mph, and it’s best not to exceed that for safety and the longevity of your vehicle. Not to mention it helps you achieve better gas mileage!
Steep grades are daunting in a large vehicle. But you can and will make it up that hill if you’re careful and take it slow.
Stay in a lower gear, whether ascending or descending a hill. This will keep you at a lower speed where you can maintain better control of your RV. This also prevents you from having to ride your brakes all the way down a steep incline.
Beware the Wind
Since RVs tend to be large and…shall we say…not very aerodynamic, wind gusts can be particularly problematic. If you happen to be driving your RV on a windy day, it’s best, again, to keep your speed low so you stay in control of the vehicle.
If weather picks up and you’re concerned about your RV rolling due to the wind, it may be wise to take shelter in an overpass until the wind dies down and you feel confident about resuming your trip.
And the Number One of our RV Tips…
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly on our list: only drive your RV when you’re well-rested and alert.
As you’ve probably gathered, driving an RV takes a high level of awareness and concentration. Never drive when you’re overtired, distracted, or otherwise don’t feel like you can make the road your main focus. Have your co-pilot take over until you’re back at your best!
Now get out there, enjoy the trip, and make some memories in your RV!
Need to get your RV prepped for your next trip? Contact your local Inland team today: https://www.inlandtruck.com/locations/
If want to learn more about driving an RV, there are also some excellent resources and schools out there for RV owners looking for training. Here are just a few to get started: