Let’s be honest – driving a large RV can be intimidating. Even if you have had your driver’s license for twenty or thirty years, there is a big difference between driving a small sedan and a large motorhome. If you are going to be able to fully enjoy your RV adventures, one of the first steps is to make sure you can get comfortable behind the wheel of your new rig. A vacation isn’t fun when you have to stress about the next time you are going to be driving, so learn how to relax and pilot your RV safely to and from your destinations.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The best way to get comfortable with anything is simply to do it as often as possible. You aren’t going to get better at driving your RV if you never drive it – so get out there and put it in motion. At first, try to find places like empty parking lots where you can
spend some time practicing without the pressure of having other vehicles in the way. Ask an experienced RV-driving friend to take you somewhere remote so you can work on things like making turns, backing up, etc. Working on your driving in a no-pressure environment is just the thing you need to start building confidence.
Mirrors Are Your Friend
You should always use your mirrors when driving any kind of vehicle, but mirrors are even more important on a motorhome or when pulling a large trailer. The information you get from checking your side mirrors is extremely valuable when it comes time to change lanes or make a turn. If you are able to monitor your mirrors regularly, while keeping your eyes also on the road ahead, you will feel better because you will have a good idea of what is going on around you.
Again, this is another point that is just as valuable when driving a ‘regular’ vehicle as it is when driving an RV. The motorhome or trailer that you are traveling with has a lot of mass, which means it has a lot of momentum. You can’t stop a large RV in a hurry, so pay attention to the road ahead of you at all times. If you were to get distracted even for just a moment, you may not notice that cars in front of you are stopping quickly – and you may not be able to brake in time to prevent an accident. A big part of staying calm on the road while driving an RV is paying attention to what is happening in front of you. As long as you are attentive and aware of your surroundings, your driving fears should quickly fade away.
Increase Following Distance
You should not follow the vehicle in front of you as closely as you can when driving a car or pickup truck. This also comes back to the size of the RV and its increased stopping distance. Provide more space between your RV and the car in front of you so that you have more time to stop and avoid an accident. Defensive driving should always be the goal in an RV – never drive your RV with an aggressive attitude.
Staying calm comes down to being prepared. If you can spend some time practicing and learn good habits like checking your mirrors and not following closely, you will find that driving your RV isn’t nearly as intimidating as you once believed. With those fears pushed aside, you can now focus on having a great vacation with your family and friends.