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Just to review, we started the first session of the driving experience with getting to know your rig such as weight ratings, mirrors, turning radius and staying in the middle of the road. In part two, we covered weight ratings as it pertained to tires and specific tire related issues. Now we are going to talk about actually being on the road and for what to be prepared!
Your Highway Lanes
Most beginners have a tendency to hug the right side of the road because we have become conditioned to place our vehicles in a certain spot on typical highways and interstates. But we are now driving 102.5” RVs rather than the typical 72” car or truck and that puts us too close to the shoulder and the potential to drop off and cause issues.
Use your mirrors and backup camera if available. There are several wireless backup cameras available on the market that I believe are good for everyone driving or towing an RV. Not only are the good for backing up, but also for positioning and to see what is behind you while going down the road. Don’t go the cheap route with the license plate version for $75. It does not have the distance to get from the back of the RV to the tow vehicle. Tadi Brothers and Rear View Safety seem to have great reviews and are about $300 which is a good investment in my opinion!
While driving down the road, space yourself evenly between the middle road markings and the white line along the passenger side of the road. This line has been applied to give motorist a focal point to see when there is bad weather or blinding light from an oncoming vehicle. Use it to help position your rig.
There are two statements I use often in my driving seminars;
- Be Prepared
- It’s easier to stay out of trouble than to get out of trouble
Be Prepared means taking the time to practice the turning issues we discussed in part 2, setting up the mirrors, knowing where the blind spots are, and not just jumping in a unit and taking off!
#2 pertains to watching for issues as you drive such as:
- an intersection with a tight turn
- heavy traffic
- pulling into a fueling station with limited space for getting out or the potential for another car coming in to block you in
- looking ahead to see what might be a potential obstacle at the off ramp, intersection, boulevard street, fueling station, campgrounds or tourist spots.
One thing I try to encourage new RV owners is to constantly think…Drive Thru, Not Back Up! As you travel and go into fueling stations, rest stops, and campgrounds, look for the easiest way to get in and out which is to circle around in some cases and give yourself the opportunity to drive straight out and not have to back up! Don’t put yourself in a situation you need to get out of trouble!
Always wear your seatbelt and make sure it is adjusted properly! The seatbelt performs two functions in a motorhome – crash protection and stability in the seat. Most motorhome seats are fairly high pedestals and a quick lane change or dropping a front tire off the shoulder can create a momentum shift that can actually throw a driver off the seat!
According to most driving statistics, traveling at 65 mph is the optimum speed for the best fuel economy. Every 5 mph will decrease mpg by at least 1 mpg. Keep in mind this data has several factors that can affect the results such as the weight of the vehicle with contents, something towed, and road conditions. However, maintaining a 65 mph speed will allow you to adjust to several driving issues that make your travels much more enjoyable.
Also, driving at 65 mph allows you to speed up or slow down to accommodate external situations that will encounter. For example, if you are driving on an interstate with a merge lane coming ahead and you see a vehicle attempting to merge, you can determine if it’s better to speed up a couple mph or slow down. Almost every state road use law states the merging vehicle must yield the right of way, however, we know that does not always happen. Be prepared! Determine if it’s better to speed up or slow down. Most of the time I slow down and let them come in. I try not to move to the left lane as it seems every time I do that, I get stuck there for miles! Since I do not have the acceleration capabilities to speed up and get back to the right lane, other cars “shoot” around me to the right. I like to stay in the right lane whenever possible.
Steering Wheel Hand Placement
Place your hands on the steering wheel at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock. When we first learned to drive we were told 10-2, however, due to the way airbags are designed, they now recommend 9-3. Airbags are designed to deploy up and down with indentations on the side. If you have your hands at 10-2 the bags will blow them off the wheel or worse, dislocate your shoulders. Most larger motorhomes do not have airbags due to the massive size of the windshield however it’s good to practice this for the towed vehicles as well.
About the author:
Dave Solberg: Managing Editor, RV Repair Club
For the last 25 years, Dave has conducted RV maintenance and safety seminars, developed dealer and owner training programs, written RV safety and handyman articles, authored an RV handbook reference guide and logged over 100,000 miles on the road in an RV.
RV Repair Club is your go-to online resource for enthusiasts who want quality RV maintenance, repair, and upgrade information – a community where passionate RVers can come together to gather knowledge and share their experiences.
Learn more about RV Repair Club.
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John Wooldridge said:
I agree with Dave’s article except for his recommendation of 65 mph speed target. Every article I have seen recommends 55 mph speeds for best fuel economy, not 65.
Albert Cerf said:
I don’t necessarily agree with you staying in the right-hand Lane all the time. I don’t like to deal with merging traffic, having to always slow down or speed up, and I like to be able to keep my cruise control on, so I stay in the second late as much as possible unless I’m getting ready to exit a freeway especially on a four or five Lane freeways. I will say this, what ever lane you are in try and stay there. Do as little lane changing as possible. If do travel in the 2nd lane, and you are looking to exit do it far in advance so as not to force your way over. I have had 4 different types of Rv’s, traveled across the US several times, with many thousands of miles under my belt.
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