Friday, December 8, 2023


Using reference points helps you safely drive your rig

By Gail Marsh
Getting a big new rig like a Class A RV or any “new-to-you” vehicle requires some adjustments to the way you drive. Figuring out some reference points on your new ride will boost your driving confidence as well as help you drive more safely.

So just what are reference points?

According to, Reference points are visual guides that help you judge your distance when parking or turning. From your viewpoint in the driver’s seat, reference points help you to see the exact location of the wheels … and also the side of the car when parking or turning.

If you’ve driven a particular vehicle for a while, you’ve probably set reference points, perhaps without even knowing it. For example, we’ve driven our Mercury Mariner for more than 12 years. I know how to keep that SUV driving in a straight line down the road. I know how it corners and I can easily park it, too. That’s because I’m familiar with driving it. I know from looking out the windows and windshield how close I am to a curb or parking space.

Driving a diesel pusher RV for the first time, or even towing with a different truck, can be intimidating at first. It’s important to know how to maneuver your vehicle safely, for your sake and the safety of others. Reference points can help.

How do you locate and set reference points?

It’s probably easiest to take your “new-to-you” vehicle to an empty parking lot. Position your vehicle so that the left tires rest on one of the painted parking lines. Then, as you sit in the driver’s seat, “draw” an imaginary sight line from the parking line to a spot either inside or outside of your vehicle that “lines up” with the parking line. For example, your imaginary line may intersect the corner of the windshield’s lower left side, like this:

Photo Credit: eRegulations

Repeat the same procedure for the right side of your RV or tow vehicle. Pull into position so that your right tires rest on a parking line. Draw your imaginary sight line as you sit in the driver’s seat and note the reference spot somewhere inside or outside of your vehicle like before.

Remember that reference points differ from person to person, depending on the vehicle and the height of the driver. Additional practice is necessary when towing a trailer, of course, but familiarizing yourself with the tow vehicle is an important first step.

Watch the video below for more information. It’s from Mark Polk at

Here’s hoping that by setting reference points for your new ride you’ll boost your confidence and travel stress-free.

Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.



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Char (@guest_128146)
2 years ago

I use reference marks on occasion. But mostly if you look ahead at the center of your lane that is where your rig will be. I find my rig is always centered this way. It’s the same as riding a motorcycle. Wherever you look is where you will be.

John (@guest_127903)
2 years ago

I use both fisheyes by adjusting them to see part of the side of the Motorhome and the road about half way back of the Motorhome. This way I can see either the edge of the road or the stripes on both sides which helps me stay centered in my lane.

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