Before driving RV, please engage brain



By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Photo: base image,

Traveling by car to an appointment in the “big city” of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, we noticed with some alarm as a commercial truck pulled out into the “suicide lane” to pass a vehicle. Since a commercial driver’s license is a pretty-much coveted possession of truck drivers, it seemed to us an unusually provocative move, taking a big risk needlessly. What on earth could have caused him or her to act with such blatant stupidity?

It didn’t take long to figure it out. We spotted, through a long line of cars, just what it was the trucker passed – a big Class A motorhome with a toad car behind him. Traffic was building up behind the RV, poking along at about 45 in a 55 mph zone, but we were assured this would surely end soon, as there was a long, wide, pullout about a mile ahead — which the RVer simply rolled on past.

Shortly thereafter we hit a 65 mph zone, and by this time, Mr. Pokey had somehow managed to slow his rig down to 42. A frustrated auto driver had enough — he whipped out around the motorhome, and came close enough to “head-on’ing” oncoming traffic that it pretty near caused heart palpitations in our car, just watching it. Others were emboldened to similar acts. Happily no more close calls ensued but, finally, we were two rigs behind the motorhomer. The pilot in the big rig just kept right on plugging along, never hitting more than about 53 miles per hour, and passing plenty of long and wide stretches of paved shoulder that would have made the perfect out.

As we were headed to an appointment, we watched with no little anxiety as the “ETA” clock on our GPS unit showed we had lost at least four minutes since our first encounter with the lumbering recreational limo. Finally, a two-lane portion of the highway opened up, and we were able to get around this bozo —along with about 15 more cars stacked up behind.

We’ve said it more than once over the years: When you get behind the wheel of a motorhome or a towing rig, you put yourself up as a representative of the rest of the RV community. Like it or not, to the average non-RVer, you’ve seen one RV, you’ve seen ’em all. Being RVers, we have empathy for fellow RVers who may struggle with climbing a grade, or dealing with twisty curves with a long, wide rig. But even with that empathy, I gotta confess, I still had some rather nasty thoughts about the lack of consideration of this character. I can only imagine the colorful language that must have been sent his way by others in the big parade we shared for some long miles. For heaven’s sake, DON’T NEEDLESSLY IMPEDE TRAFFIC.

[Editor: Another consideration — We’re not sure about all states, but in Washington state, RCW 46.61.427 provides: Slow-moving vehicle to pull off roadway. On a two-lane highway where passing is unsafe because of traffic in the opposite direction or other conditions, a slow moving vehicle, behind which five or more vehicles are formed in a line, shall turn off the roadway wherever sufficient area for a safe turn-out exists, in order to permit the vehicles following to proceed. As used in this section a slow moving vehicle is one which is proceeding at a rate of speed less than the normal flow of traffic at the particular time and place.]



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I agree with those that say, use pullouts when available. But there are times when they not available. I do try to pull to the right to give a driver extra room to pass, only after I determined it is safe to do so. I have followed class A and 18 wheelers from behind, and it pretty hard to see the road situations in front of them. Be safe

Sherry Dawson

Having lived and driven mostly in east coast states from Maine to Florida, I’ve never noticed a pull-out on a two lane road. What do you do when there is a long stretch of two-lane road with no place to pull out, turn off, or exit?


One of the most satisfying sights was being in a line on hwy. 1 north of LA behind a slow RV and having a cop join the line. The moment a car came behind him to make ten in the line he was out with lights and siren to pull over the RV. You could almost hear everyone cheering. Yes, I drive my RV less than the speed limit at times but I do think of those behind me and make sure they can pass safely or I pull over.

Michael McCracken

Russ and Tina,
Good post. This RV driver had no excuse for his actions. One exception I might add. Several states have the pull off rule if five or more cars are behind you. I always try to obey this law, however in certain high traffic areas, you would be pulling over constantly. I had this situation in Colorado. Sorry to say if I were to get to my destination, I had to ignore this law. This certainly was not the situation in this case. This RVer needs to stay off the road.


Slow RVs don’t cause wrecks–in a hurry idiots who pass when they shouldn’t cause wrecks. Ey don’t call these accidents because they are “on purposes” or wrecks.
The RV mantra is “Dont let the guy behind you tell you how to drive.” Ey usually drive exactly the speed limit, especially in construction zones and National Parks. Ey pull over only when safe. Ey am looking for a bumper sticker that says “yes I CAN drive any slower” with a four letter word stuck in there somewhere.
Burn Diesel and Keep on Truckin. Hi Diane
The Loneoutdoorsman


Most the time when you see a large RV whether it is a trailer or motor-home, people generally forget that the stopping distance for those large rigs are at least three times longer or more than a normal car. It is like you stopping on the railroad tracks and expecting the train to stop because you are there first. They can’t stop for several miles.

Granted everyone should be considerate when in the large rigs and keep your eye out for situations where you can pull over safely to keep the traffic flowing. Sometimes not all slow lanes are marked so a large rig can safely pull over into it without having a problem getting there. This is where the general public should get involved with writing to their congressman to get signs put up on the highways showing where these lanes are in advance so the large rigs can get out of the way and not be a traffic nuisance.


Making excuses for the slow driver, you overlook the dangers. If everyone is going over the speed limit and a car is trying to drive at a slower pace, it can be passed, generally safely. But a motorhome with a toad or a fifthwheel cannot be passed as easily or as safely especially on windy roads. We drive usually up there with the traffic but because we are 50′ plus…. if it appears we have someone behind us that is wanting to pass we pull over. The law in Alaska is 5 vehicle behind you pull over.

James Fulton

Although a RV operator is not a profession commercial truck drivers, the RV operator must use common sense in operating his or her vehicle. Common sense includes, not limited to looking in the rear view mirrors to monitor traffic behind the RV, If there are more than 4 vehicles behind the RV, no matter the speed it is going, the RV operator should pull off to the right, where it is safe to do so, and allow the faster traffic to pass. Also, by using common sense the RV operator should move over in area where there are lanes for such action, usually on inclines on highways built on hills and mountains. A few bad commercial drivers reflect negative opinion on all truck drivers, and equally, bad RV drivers, usually not using common sense, reflect negative opinion on all RV operators.


I’m glad you used the term “commercial driver” and not “professional driver” as there are very few of these drivers that drive in a professional manner. They would have surely failed their driver’s test and they should be setting the example. As well, if the guy behind me in his little import had spent an extra $10 on a few more horsepower he could have easily sped past me. Too much impatience. Leave 5 minutes earlier on your trip.


I’ll second everything Emsminger said above… I’m not going to operate my vehicle unsafely for your benefit if I’m already at speedlimit.

MY pet peeve in this area is all the idiots who respond to my right-directional by passing on the right and then laying on their horn to complain I didn’t get out of their way… thus occupying the exact “climb lane” I’d need in order to let speeders pass!

When my heavy rig accumulates a long tail, i perform a “cop loop” (using exit/entrance as a reverse passing lane) at an uphill exit… Get off and gravity slows the rig down to a stop saving brakes, cross the crossroad and re-enter with the downhill helping accelerate… magically clearing the traffic from your bumper.

Mr. Fuddled

I’ve actually been in situations where I was the “slowpoke”. So, to play devil’ s advocate, I would like to suggest that perhaps the driver was maintaining what he/she considered to be his safe speed. The speed that would give him the time and distance needed to react and negotiate his rig safely. Also, roadside pullouts are often difficult to see far enough ahead to slow an RV down and pull in, especially if they are not marked ahead of time.
I understand human nature and being irritated when someone is between me and where I want to go. But I also appreciate and respect a driver who focuses on staying in his safety zone.

Lee Ensminger

I agree, people should be more considerate. However, we’ve fostered a “Me, me, me, nobody matters but me!” attitude in our society as a result of some fine permissive parenting over the last several decades, so it’s hard to understand why people are surprised at this behavior. I drive a Class A motorhome, and I will try to do the polite thing if I see I’m holding people up due to twists and turns in the road, or just generally crappy pavement that many seem willing to slam their SUVs through but are killer for a heavy motorhome. I have two exceptions, though-when I’m making my best speed and the opportunities to pull over are concealed by a curve or a rise in the road so that they can’t be seen ahead of time, I am not standing on the brakes and making an unsafe slide off the road to accommodate you. The other is in regard to this statement:
“a slow moving vehicle is one which is proceeding at a rate of speed less than the normal flow of traffic at the particular time and place.”
All I owe you is the speed limit. If the speed limit is 55 and I’m going 55, get used to it. Many people think it’s their God-given right to drive 20-25 mph over the posted speed limit. That’s just not true.


I wish I had a dollar for every time I got stuck behind some bozo in a Class A that refused to use the pull outs. I won’t drive on US 89A between Kanab and the Marble Canyon bridge because every time I’ve driven it (it is a pretty drive), there were one or two inconsiderate jerks in Class As poking along and refusing to use one of the frequent pull outs, stacking up a dozen or more vehicles behind them. It’s no small wonder so many people hate RVs.