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RV Driving: Different, Not Difficult

RV Driving opens up a world of on-the-road travel adventure. It requires no special license and it's easier than many newcomers think.

senior man driving RV A survey of RV owners by Louis Harris and Associates found that three out of four RV owners do not feel that driving or towing an RV poses any difficulty. In fact, experienced automobile drivers already have the needed skills to drive a motorized RV. Automatic transmissions, power brakes and steering are usually standard equipment.

With proper attention to the differences in vehicle size, height and weight, you'll find it easy to take the wheel of a conversion vehicle or motorhome. Towing skills are also readily acquired.

However, although RV driving is not difficult, it is different. Some tips to keep in mind, whether you will be driving a motorized RV or towing an RV, are as follows:

  • Adjust and use all rear view mirrors. Before leaving on a trip, sit in the driver's seat and adjust all mirrors for optimal road views.

  • Account for your vehicle size when turning. The front and rear wheels will track paths much farther apart than those of a car.

  • Allow more time to brake, change lanes and enter a busy highway; bigger vehicles take more time to accelerate and slow down.

  • Drivers towing a folding camping trailer or travel trailers also should match the proper tow vehicle to your RV. Most full and mid-size family cars can pull a trailer; so can today's popular vans, 4-by-4s and light-duty trucks. Check the owner's manual to find the trailer types that your vehicle can haul and the maximum load weight it can pull.

  • Use the right trailer hitch and make sure it is hitched correctly.

  • Connect brakes and signal lights. Always check that the trailer's brakes, turn signals and tail lights are synchronized with the towing vehicle's.

  • Back up with care. By placing your hand at the bottom of the steering wheel, the trailer will move in the direction you turn your hand. To move the trailer to the right, move your hand to the right. Once the trailer is moving in the proper direction, avoid any sharp movements of the steering wheel. Slowly steer the vehicle into its desired direction. It is also a good idea to have someone outside the vehicle assist the driver in backing up to avoid any obstacles not seen in the mirrors. If another person is not available, the driver should inspect the area behind the vehicle. By evaluating the situation before backing, drivers can avoid surprises and accidents.

  • Make every RV trip a safer one by buckling up your safety belt and making sure passengers are secured too. Wearing a safety belt is the single most effective thing you can do to prevent serious injury and death in a traffic accident, according to the National Safety Belt Coalition.

For more information to prepare for your RV trip, see RV Camping 101.