I admit that I sometimes get worried when I witness a large motorhome or fifth-wheel pass me on the road. The reason for my trepidation stems from concern over the abilities of the drivers behind the wheel. Recently there has been some interest in professional driver education for RV owners, but it is only starting to gain momentum.
When I was younger, I acquired my commercial drivers license (CDL) and air-brake endorsement in order to put myself through university. I purchased my own tractor-trailer and went to work as an over-the-road truck driver. In order to earn my CDL I had to take extensive truck driver training and attend classroom instruction, including an exam, for the air-brake endorsement. Although not all states and provinces require an air-brake endorsement in order to attain a CDL, British Columbia does. The air-brake course provided much-needed education on a very important component of heavy vehicles. The reason I bring this up is because fifth-wheels, large motorhomes, and travel trailers are simply small versions of heavy trucks. Many owners of large RV’s have never had professional experience driving large vehicles, and some only drive their units for a short period each year.
If you drive an RV, especially a large motorhome or trailer, please always remember you have responsibilities to yourself and drivers around you that vastly exceed those of a standard size vehicle. I highly recommend you participate in an RV drivers course such as those offered by professional drivers at RV seminars. Additionally, you may want to remember some simple tips such as the following:
- Be aware of what is around, above, and underneath your RV at all times, including before moving the RV.
- Ensure all lights and brakes are functioning and adjusted properly.
- Check air pressure on all tires every time you stop (remember that air pressure will be higher when the tires are warm).
- Make wide right turns, but be ultra-conscious of vehicles (and other objects) that may appear on your right, so signal early and check often!
- Whenever possible, use a spotter when backing up, being sure to use pre-arranged hand signals. I recommend using use a spotter when backing up, being sure to use pre-arranged hand signals.
- If you drive an air-brake equipped motorhome, familiarize yourself with at least the basics of how air-brake systems work, and monitor your air pressures frequently. Include the air system in your regular maintenance, such as bleeding moisture out of the air tanks.
I urge you to do your part to keep yourself and those around you safe on the road.
About the Author:
Steve Froese, an avid RV owner, traveler, and Coach-Net member since 2013, is the principal of “A Word to the Wise Technical Communications”, a published RV author, certified RV technician, and licensed Professional Engineer. He frequently collaborates with the “RV Doctor”, Gary Bunzer, and has worked with the RVIA/RVDA as a technical and training writer and consultant. Professionally, he works as a quality engineer and musician. Watch for more of Steve’s work in upcoming Coach-Net publications.