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Should drivers with RVs 40 feet or longer need a special driver’s license?

Should RVers who drive or tow long RVs—say those 40 feet or longer—be required to pass a test for a driver’s license to drive or tow them?

In virtually all cases, the towable drivers will have an additional 15 or 18 feet in their cars or pickup trucks to tow the trailer or fifth wheel. Motorhome drivers will often tow a vehicle behind, which can add a similar length. In either case, we’re talking about 55 to 60 feet (at least) of RV and truck or dinghy rolling down the highway. Driving in either situation is a whole lot trickier and demanding than driving a Honda Civic or other passenger vehicle.

So what do you think? Special license or not? Please feel free to leave a comment. We’d love to hear your thoughts, and we suspect many readers would, too.

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MevetS
25 days ago

No, you shouldn’t need a special certification. Not for a arbitrary rule. Why 40′ ? Why not 25′ ? Why not 30′ of combined length (vehicle + tow) ?

And NO, I don’t own a 40′ RV. Just would like to see some more thought for creating rules and more consistency.

Jose Yabao
28 days ago

No. Another day or more at driver office, I need those days for my family. We pay a lots of taxes already.

Steven N
29 days ago

While I do not believe that a full blown CDL should be required, I do see a need for some sort of endorsement. Someone that hasn’t driven anything larger than their daily driver Prius shouldn’t be able to just jump into a 45 foot plus class A (with toad) or a F350 pulling a big 5th wheel and head down the road without show some skills. Not to mention that truckers are required to demonstrate skills with air brakes! I’m not allowed to ride my motorcycle without a special endorsement, issued only after a skills test and written examination.

Wade
1 month ago

They make people who ride motorcycles go through a course and any one pull a trailer or boat should have to have a training course, as a professional truck driver with 34 years and over 3 million miles of safe driving under my belt, I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve seen people driving in an Rv or towing boats, Campers in an unsafe manner. A lot of times the people are towing things that are not loaded correctly or with a vehicle that doesn’t meet the requirements for the load they are carrying. Weights & lengths are a major factor in loss of control of these vehicles.

MevetS
25 days ago
Reply to  Wade

You make some good points. But the point of reckless and inconsiderate drivers can also be made about professional drivers. You might even agree that you may not be the typical professional driver.

RedDwarf
24 days ago
Reply to  MevetS

36 years and excess of 20 million miles as professional driver here. Wades points are spot on… yet with inclusion of understanding/education and testing one will have a better concept to being a good driver when pulling trailers and or driving a large motorhome. I agree that professional drivers can and sometimes are careless and reckless but the majority are not. Even when they might be, having knowledge of what you are driving or pulling down the road is beneficial beyond not having knowledge and training and not being able to do whatever might need to be done to try and be safe. I full-time rv now and I have to say, I sure wish the big rv rigs had drivers that were trained and licensed to drive their units. Many more stupid rv drivers than truckers for darn sure.

Mitzi Agnew Giles and Ed Giles
1 month ago

Mitzi here. Yes for both. When I was an assistant Scoutmaster for the Boy Scout troop, and we were getting ready to drive to out of state summer camps, we always had a tight time shoehorning youth, adults and luggage into the smaller rental vans. We couldn’t rent the larger 15 passenger vans because they required, according to our senior Scoutmaster, a CDL endorsement on your drivers license. Our troop was not well off and nobody’s parent had a cdl endorsement- it would not have been fair to require adult volunteers, who are already paying out of pocket for the privilege of being a Boy Scout volunteer, to take time and money to do this. So I say yes, if a commercial vehicle needs to show proof of knowledge to safely drive, I believe non commercial drivers should also.
My SUV on a truck chassis is 100 inches long, and my trailer is 17 ft front hitch to rear bumper. Height is 96 inches. Yes, I would definitely want a CDL endorsement before driving a bus conversion or lengthy Class C

Tom S
1 month ago

Kudos, you Commenters changed my mind, mainly because I have a cdl and see many cdl drivers out here now who shouldn’t be. The license didn’t fix their lack of skills , attitude or driving style. And boy do I hate the regulation caused by them.

Dustin
1 month ago

Why would you require special license for RV when a farmer or rancher doesn’t need one for a semi loaded with grain? I was nearly mopped out by a careless farmer in a truck. Also, as an experienced mechanic, I’ve seen farm/ranch trucks that were not safe to be on the road but no DOT inspection required in that state for farm/ranch use.

Rod B
1 month ago
Reply to  Dustin

In Iowa a farmer does hove to have a special license to drive their own semi truck hauling grain.

Charles Krey
1 month ago

Just another regressive tax. Actually the majority of camper haulers are better car/light truck drivers. I think there are a lot more car drivers that shouldn’t even have a license to drive. I see it every day with some of their idiot styles of driving. Should be some sort of remedial driving test for these drivers. Plus a penalty of some kind.

TIM MCRAE
1 month ago

Nope. Keep the {bleeped} government out of my business!

Rolling Coalrolling Coal
1 month ago

A special license, probably not. A skills test to show proficiency, absolutely yes!

Bob p
1 month ago

A special license is not needed, an endorsement showing you know how to handle the RV is needed, I’ve had a motorcycle endorsement on my license since 1973. It means I have read the book and understand the different rules that apply to riding a motorcycle and the handling characteristics. The same should apply to your knowledge of operating an RV no matter what the size. I’ve seen people pulling pop ups that couldn’t drive safely. If you can’t safely drive your RV you’re a hazard to yourself as well as everyone around you. Don’t be to proud to accept constructive advice.

Joseph Bulger
1 month ago

I live in Pennsylvania and I need a class B non commercial CDL to drive my motorhome. If I towed a trailer rated or anything rated or weighing 10,000 or more pounds then I would need a class A non commercial CDL.

Rick
1 month ago
Reply to  Joseph Bulger

I live and drive in Pa and I have an RV and tow a car behind. I am not required to to have a special driver’s license nothing special required. Been pulling and. Driving for decades.🕝

Phil J
1 month ago

Nevada requires a nonCDL for tow and trailer combination that has a gross weight of 2600 lbs. No physical required and restrictions like no pay for driving, no air brakes, must use the type of transmission used for the test. Minor cost and written test and verbal questions about various mechanical and safety items with the two vehicles. Short driving tests in their parking lot and an over the road test. Not hard to pass but you need to study and they have manuals to study beforehand.
Should be a requirement for all vehicles over a certain GCVW in all states. Doesn’t mean that minor accidents can’t happen but at least you have at least some knowledge and skill for your rig setup.

Jeff Craig
1 month ago

Different states have different rules for a Federally financed highway system. So, while NY, IL or CA may require such a rule, ID, TX and FL would do the opposite just to prove how ‘pro-freedom’ they are. The fact remains that roads in different states, can be as different as they are from downtown Denver to SR40 near Berthoud Falls to the west. You probably don’t want to have a novice drive an Allegro Bus or Grand Design Solitude 390RK without some sort of training. Just as you don’t want someone who watched a YouTube video to attempt brain surgery on your child, you don’t want someone used to driving a Honda Civic for 40 years to hop into a F350 and slap on an 10 ton fifth wheel. Everyone needs training.

Bob p
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeff Craig

Most 5th wheels weigh much less than 10 tons.

Bill
1 month ago

A special license does not change a person. There are good and bad drivers in busses, big trucks and motorcycles and each has a special license.

JT818
1 month ago
Reply to  Bill

However, passing tests and qualifying for a special lic. should make for a better driver.

Rick
1 month ago
Reply to  JT818

Should but often it doesn’t. I was pushed to the side of the road at 10pm on a 2 lane road by an 18 wheeler that had been following me for at least 3 miles I signaled that I was moving over because of a service truck on the side of the road and the 18 wheeler at that exact moment decided to storm past me so to avoid getting hit I moved back to my right and it caused me to hit service truck mirror with my right hand mirror .breaking both. So don’t tell me a special license is the answer. Common sense is the answer. But where can you find that . Let me know.ill buy a case.

Michael Galvin
1 month ago

Do drivers of RVs over 40 feet cause more accidents?
If yes, require special license.
If no, no need to regulate.

Gijoe750
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Galvin

Im a truck driver and I see RVs flipped over all the time on the interstates.

Tim Hardy
1 month ago
Reply to  Gijoe750

I’ve been a truck driver and saw big trucks flipped over all the time….

Rick
1 month ago
Reply to  Gijoe750

And many semi and reg trucks also

JAMES
1 month ago

NO, Government already interferes too much with everything in our lives

Jeff Craig
1 month ago
Reply to  JAMES

Exactly – let’s leave operating the military, building roads, providing clean air, water, sewer systems and education to the for-profit corporations that made America great.

#eyeroll

KellyR
1 month ago

There are different endorsements, rather than different licenses, for motor cycle, wearing glasses, different handicap devices. Weight and length may be another issue to be considered. HOWEVER, It seems that most anyone can rent a big u-haul type truck or trailer. Those are the vehicles that I give wide berth to when on the road. A big u-haul truck towing a car on a trailer…. I just plain stay away. Does it really make sense to make RVers get a special license when we allow “regular” people to rent big trucks and trailers?

Robert
1 month ago
Reply to  KellyR

EXACTLY!!!!!!!! Well said…….

Phil wyatt
1 month ago
Reply to  KellyR

Truck driver here the most dangerous drivers are the penski and uhaul these guys are loading and in process of moving and racing against the clock to return the truck most have never drove anything that size. Where as most rvs are experienced and not in a hurry. Most wrecked rvs and semis are caused by small vehicles cutting them off. All drivers should be schooled in large vehicles their weights stopping distances ect. They all are on the same roads.

KellyR
1 month ago
Reply to  Phil wyatt

Physics should be a required course in high school. I learned physics before I went to high school. I had a brother and was brought up on farms. Things in motion, turning radiuses, and you find out how hard it is to stop things once they get going – like one of us “just happening” to fall from the top bunk or the car not stopping before it hit the front of the garage. Big vehicles follow the same principles but with greater force. Logic – Generalization .

Joe
1 month ago

Sorry I voted no, I want no additional way the government can get into my pocket. You can’t fix stupid with a licence. I can’t tell you how many new covid coaches I have seen with damage and you can tell most of it is from turns or backing into something. Awnings and topper covers ripped off, storage doors scratched and damaged.
Also what do you do if the person can’t pass the test this is America we all have rights. I can’t back a trailer to save my life (just can’t get turning the wheel the wrong way) so I was smart enough to let my wife back the boats into the water i didn’t give a damm what anyone else though having to let my wife back the boat into the water. I doubt I could pass a test backing a trailer. Good thing I drive a motorhome no problem backing that.
Why the magic number of 40 feet that’s not gonna hold up.
You would also be dragging boaters into this and they would be very upset. They are very organized with BoatUS and they will come after you and the government.

Tom
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe

Hey Joe, chill, nobody dragging boaters into anything. You brought boats, this was RVs.

Robert
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom

Calm down Tom, he’s just bringing up another point.

Bob p
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe

Backing is simple, place your hand at the bottom of the steering wheel, which ever way you move your hand is the way the trailer will go, no need for all the tension.

Bob p
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe

Driving is not a right, it is a privilege! People constantly confuse privilege with rights. You don’t have any right to drive, if it’s not in the Constitution or Bill of Rights you don’t have the right.

L Beal
1 month ago

Why make things more difficult and expensive because the trailer is 40 ft or over? Why not 39 or 35ft? Why not require everyone who tows anything to get a special license?
The RV industry should make available towing classes at least in all major cities, because it would be nice to have an option if one is uncomfortable with the driving.
In the 3 years I’ve been towing a 41′ 5th wheel I can tell you that what I fear are the little cars and motorcycles that zoom in and out around me. I fear some truck drivers too and guess what? They have special licenses to drive those trucks.
So no, leave things as they are but make more driving classes available but not mandatory.