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Around the Campfire: RVers offer their 20 best driving tips

Editor’s note: Gail’s “Around the Campfire” series is usually found in our Saturday newsletter. We thought we’d include it in today’s newsletter since it features so many great tips. If you’re not familiar, each week Gail writes about conversations she hears around the campground’s campfire among friends and strangers. These conversations are always interesting and thought-provoking and reflect real RVers’ views on current things happening in the camping and RVing industry. Read last week’s column here about ways RVers are saving on high fuel prices. 

It was an interesting night around the campfire. Interesting and informative, too. Someone asked, “What are your best RV driving tips?” Almost everyone around the fire offered a suggestion or two. Here is my compilation of the ideas that were shared…

RV lighting safety driving tips

  • Use your turn signals! Always. (Think: changing lanes, exiting/merging highway, cornering, and more.)
  • Remember to turn off turn signals after changing lanes.
  • When you approach a car from the rear, dim your RV’s headlights so you won’t blind the guy in front of you.

RV lane safety tips

  • Stay out of other drivers’ “blind spots.”
  • Do not change lanes suddenly and then slam on the brakes.
  • Never change lanes while driving through an intersection.
  • If possible, move into the left lane to allow merging traffic to enter the roadway.
  • When passing, be sure you can see the entire front end of the vehicle you’ve passed so you won’t cut them off.
  • Pay special attention to oncoming vehicles, especially when traveling on two-lane roads.
  • Your RV may make extra-wide turns. Turn slowly and carefully.

RV driving speed safety tips

  • Reduce speed according to current weather conditions.
  • Do not exceed the speed limit.
  • Merge into traffic correctly.
  • Increase your braking distance when driving your RV.

Special considerations when driving your RV

  • Drive defensively. Move your gaze left to right and near to far to anticipate traffic changes and potential danger.
  • Never drive when you feel tired.
  • Do not let pets ride in your lap when driving.
  • Clear snow/ice off your RV before hitting the road.
  • Watch out for motorcycles.
  • Do not tailgate.

Can you add some tips to these campers’ list? We welcome your suggestions!

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Michael Galvin, PhD
5 months ago

Pay attention to traffic, stop lights, and so forth WAY down the road, not just right in front of you. Plan ahead.

Dean G. Porter
5 months ago

Hi there All,
A newby to RVs for 2 years now with a 33′ class A.
Didn’t want one that big, but couldn’t pass up the SUPER deal.
Pushing the age of 60 this year, & had been riding motorcycles for several. That chapter is over now, but I FIRMLY believe that ALL young want-to-be drivers, & experienced ones too, should be required to take a “Motorcycle Safety” & a “CDL” driving course to be allowed to operate any vehicle.
These courses, in my mind, may help all of us understand what & when, or at least be prepared to handle a lot of unexpected situations & know how that 10 ton vehicle may be able to respond to our actions ?
In short, Please be respectful of everyone in front, beside, & behind you, By Letting Them Know Your INTENTIONS !!!!
Travel Safe,
Dean

Ken
6 months ago

In California I noticed , when three or more lanes were available with many on-ramps, Trucks would hang out in the second lane from the right until they were through the city. Now I do that too. Have had tooo many incidents of merging traffic not paying attention.

Gene Sannes
6 months ago

Special Consideration When Driving

Gene Sannes
6 months ago
Reply to  Gene Sannes

this is Gene and my first time writing. As a motorcycle safety Instructor I taught the word “SEE.” When driving (S) SEARCH the road ahead, behind and to the sides for problems that may develop in the next up to 15-20 seconds. (E) EVALUATE any situation ahead of you that appears to be developing, like cars coming too fast from a side road, cars that may look like they might turn in your direction. Anything that could develop. (E) EXECUTE any actions you deem necessary to reduce or eliminate a possible danger to you from other drivers or road conditions. Do so by slowing, change lanes, flash lights, speed up to get away or in some cases pull over. Think about SEE.

Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
6 months ago
Reply to  Gene Sannes

Thanks, Gene, for the great advice! Have a good afternoon/evening. 😀 –Diane

MrDisaster
6 months ago

Turn on your headlights! No matter the time of day or the weather conditions. This wil improve your visibility to other drivers. No, it won’t stop them from making poor decisions, but visibility helps.

Michael Galvin, PhD
6 months ago
Reply to  MrDisaster

Yes, and motorcycles have no right to run with bright headlights during daytime.

DW/ND
6 months ago

Drive with your mirrors – Watch for following traffic, watch the blind spot(s) and scan the side of your vehicle for any anomaly like smoke, awning fabric and any loose or falling parts. Professional truck drivers use a scanning system similar to pilots – scan the gauges, the road ahead and the vehicle and road behind – they all have an impact on safety. DO NOT TAILGATE ANYONE! HANGUP AND DRIVE!

Drew
6 months ago

I hope most or all should be instinct- especially for drivers with oversized vehicles.

Steve
6 months ago

I can actually remember when accessories like turn signals, heater/defrosters, radios, and electric wipers were extra-cost options on new cars. That’s why none of my grandfather’s Fords had heaters or radios and had vacuum wipers that stopped whenever you accelerated. And that’s why we learned to use our left arms to signal turns and stops, regardless of the weather.

Today, don’t you know it’s just impossible to use turn signals when you are drinking coffee, holding the cell to your ear while deep in conversation, or looking down while texting? I’d be joking if those types of behavior didn’t happen every time I just drive to the grocery store. I was recently behind a Dodge Durango driver with a cup of coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other. She never signalled once in 3 miles of changing lanes and finally turning left. Worse is coming too: eg., TV commercials showing self-steering cars with the driver clapping his hands!

Shawn McMullen
6 months ago

Many good suggestions but I would contradict one in particular. Do not change to the left lane when someone is merging onto the highway. Accidents occur more frequently when changing lanes. You run the risk of someone being in your blind spot or creating a dangerous accordion effect by the faster moving traffic in the left lane when you change lanes. It is the responsibility of the merging vehicle to merge safely and you should maintain speed so they can better judge whether to speed up and merge in front of you or slow down and merge behind you. That is why they have an acceleration lane.

Brian
6 months ago
Reply to  Shawn McMullen

I will agree, I won’t move over unless passing thru a larger city and hundreds of vehicles are merging, if it’s just a car or two they can adjust their speed to fit in as long as you are leaving a proper following distance between you and traffic ahead of you. I always like to protect my right side and if you move left to let someone merge 9 times out of 10 they won’t let you back in and others will move right to pass you, leaving you stuck trying to get back over with accelerating traffic on your right. The only time I like to move left is to pass a slower vehicle or stopped vehicles on the shoulder and I can “feel” and see when it is clear to move back over, much easier than if traffic in the right lane is moving faster than I am.

Last edited 6 months ago by Brian
Dan Bohannon
6 months ago

Check the wind conditions. Especially if pulling a bumper hitch trailer or a TOAD. Crosswinds are not fun. Some days it pays to just stay put.

Marilyn M
6 months ago

Many of the tips are road legal items – use your turn signal. I know. for many vehicles this must have been a luxury option that wasn’t added. And the rest are common sense and defensive driving practices. Again, an option, I’m sure that wasn’t added to the common person.
One tip I’d add to looking ahead and to your left and right – look behind you! After driving the autobahns in Europe for 7 years it’s a habit that I still do ALL the time. Over there you tend to look behind you more because there is always someone driving MUCH faster than you.

Tommy Molnar
6 months ago

If you can help it, never EVER drive alongside or behind a ‘big truck’. If a blowout occurs, all sorts of parts fly everywhere. Mudflaps, taillights, license plates, and assorted other metal parts. If any of this stuff hits your vehicle there WILL be damage. This is how the dreaded “gators” end up in the travel lane.

DAVE TELENKO
6 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Hey Tommy, great advice! I was a ways back from a 18 wheeler & I noticed that one off his rear tires was smoking, I backed off to figure out what I wanted to do & BOOM that tire blew up all over the place. Sure glad I hadn’t tried to pass him at that time. I was able to pick my way around all the debris! So keep an eye out for SMOKING tires.
Snoopy

Ron Seidl P.E.
6 months ago

Drive as if your relatives are in the other vehicles around you… I mean the relatives you like.

Donald Schneider
6 months ago

ALWAYS check all your lights in the front and back before leaving! Turn signals, side marker lights, brake lights, 4 way flashers, and backup lights. We cant tell you how many RVers we see leaving a campground without checking ANY of these. Be safe out there.

Thomas Edwards
6 months ago

All great advice – however – observing some of the bad RV drivers I doubt they would take time to read a safe driving article. And this advice won’t reach those non-RV drivers that cut off RV’s and Semi Trucks then brake suddenly. I did install a 300db horn just for that special moment to let them know something big just may hit them from behind if they fail to move it 😅

Bob p
6 months ago

Keep your eyes moving scanning from left to right and back, as your eyes move across the center glance at the instrument panel for a gage out of normal range or an idiot light on, continue across to the other mirror and start back. Not only will you be monitoring traffic around you but you will be monitoring your vehicle mechanicals. You will also prevent drowsiness, or highway hypnosis.

Norm Duquette
6 months ago
Reply to  Bob p

Eyes, eyes, and eyes, these are the three most important tools of a skilled driver. Keep them moving to avoid target fixation, constantly adjust your visual distance from about 14 seconds ahead of you down to about four seconds. Keep scanning both sides and keep looking back behind you at the very minimum every ten seconds, even every five seconds in heavier traffic. Most importantly, always remember that your vehicle will go directly where you look (target fixation). When in a jam, look for a way out, keep looking there, and you will get there.

The job of driving is not to enjoy the scenery. Rest areas and dash cams will serve that purpose.

Great discussion, enjoyed my Monday morning read.

mimi
6 months ago

The one tip that I cannot echo loudly enough is to not drive with pets on your lap. I see this frequently and I cannot believe that this doesn’t cause more accidents. Talk about distracted driving! Pets belong, strapped in, in the backseat.

TexasScout
6 months ago

A feature of some Toyota tundras is the ability to adjust your headlights from the cabin. It comes in handy when you got weight in the back or pulling a trailer and your headlights are shining in people‘s eyes. It’s a great safety feature.

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