Wednesday, December 8, 2021

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Despite what some say, RVs don’t drive like trucks. Know these rules of the road just for RVs

The RV salesman boasted, “If you can drive a truck, you can drive an RV.” But, I wondered, can you do it safely? Here’s the truth: RVs require special handling that differs from trucks. In order to stay safe, you need to know and follow these special road rules for RVs.

Pre-check

  • Post your rig’s height, weight, length, and width on your dashboard. You may need to access this information as you travel, so it needs to remain in plain sight.
  • Plan your route. Check weather forecasts, too. Driving in rain, snow, or gusty winds is no picnic, especially if you’re hauling a big RV behind you. Find out if there are any road closures or detours along your planned route. The Department of Transportation for each state should be able to provide up-to-date information. Or use a travel app (like Google Maps or Roadtrippers) to pinpoint trouble spots, as well as points of interest you may want to stop and see.
  • When packing your rig, stay well within the weight limits recommended by your RV’s manufacturer. Also, balance the cargo to evenly distribute the weight inside your rig. Securely fasten down all loose items to prevent them from sliding or falling over.
  • Before each trip with your RV, you should check the tire pressure in all tires. Having a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is also highly recommended. A loaded RV puts a great amount of pressure on those tires and a blowout is no fun! Remember that changing seasonal temperatures as well as increasing/decreasing elevations can cause your tires’ pressure to fluctuate. While checking for tire pressure, also visually examine each tire for tread wear, cracking or deterioration. Replace as needed.
  • Perform a “walkaround.” Just like it sounds, a walkaround means you actually walk all around your rig. Check to see that all storage hatches, windows and door(s) are securely latched. Also carefully look at the slides, jacks, and hose/electrical connection points. Be sure everything is completely retracted, unplugged, and ready for travel.
  • Check your lights. Here’s how Hubby and I do this: I stand at the back of our fifth-wheel RV. Hubby sits inside the truck and turns on the RV exterior lights, works the turn signals, applies the brakes, and flips on the emergency flashers, each in turn. I give a thumbs up for each working light. While I’m behind the rig, Hubby adjusts the rearview mirrors as well as the camera that is mounted to the back of the RV. When he’s got everything adjusted properly, he beeps twice. That’s my cue to know that it’s “all systems go!”

On the road

  • Use your seatbelts. If you are travelling with pets, they need to be secured as well. Think: car harness for the dog, cat carrier, etc.
  • Obey the speed limit along with all other highway rules. Adjust your driving according to the road conditions.
  • Allow extra space between you and the vehicles ahead of you.
  • If you begin to feel tired, take a break.
  • Remember that stopping your rig will take longer than if you were driving your car or truck. Slow down well in advance of stop signals and use extreme caution when turning or passing. Always use your turn signals! Always!

Follow these special rules of the road to stay safe, and you’ll enjoy RVing for many, many years to come!

##RVDT1736

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Ken
11 days ago

Also use “Engine Braking” as much as possible in Mountain Areas and save your friction Brakes from overheating.

Eric Ramey
11 days ago

From the files of been there done that. I keep a list of our RV’s stats (height, weight, length…etc) easily accessible for me as the driver but also for my wife as the co-pilot. This way if I miss a warning sign or ? She can quickly alert me 🙂

Bill Fisher
15 days ago

Boy, after reading all the comments I have to say the long knives were out. Wow!

Brian Karnofsky
15 days ago

Many good points in the article. The idea of posting your height is great. I’d recommend measuring it yourself because you might be higher than what the mfg’s specs state. We found that out at a fast food drive through. Possible additions: Turn off propane if required in the areas you’ll be driving. At gas stations, watch for the pillars: my noob mistake was pulling away from the pump as I would with a car & I nicked one of my stabilizer legs. Luckily it was just a nick, but 1” difference would have been an expensive mistake. Double check the latches on everything that is closeable inside and out. Inevitably, we’ve left something that looked closed but was unlatched and found something on the floor of our rig at the end of a trip. While driving, in addition to keeping lots of extra distance in front of you, watch for red tail lights and other problems 6 or 7 cars ahead. If you see a potential problem, begin to slow or stop earlier than you would in a car.

MrDisaster
16 days ago

An additional item to remember is that in Washington State, if you are towing you must follow the speed limit set for trucks. Other states may also have this rule.

Tom H.
16 days ago

All good basic advice. I’m a CDL, and have driven about everything. Everyone reading this newsletter is not a seasoned RVer. How about we give the writer a break, and not complain about every dang article. Seems to be the same ” negative crew”. Just my two cents…

Bluebird Bob
16 days ago
Reply to  Tom H.

I agree. Some readers whine about anything!

James Starling
16 days ago

Elevation doesn’t change tire pressure, elevation affects your gauge that is set for sea level. $300 might get one that is accurate at higher altitudes.

Brian Karnofsky
15 days ago
Reply to  James Starling

From my high school science class, PV=nRT. Elevation can impact pressure because the air pressure on earth drops as the elevation increases. The lower atmospheric pressure would make the tire tend to expand. Higher altitudes may have lower air temperatures, so the effect can be offset somewhat. Is there a gauge that compensates for this? Who knows, but a TPMS as the article author recommends would be helpful because some of them also report tire temperatures. See this article for details. https://www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=167

James Starling
15 days ago

I read a article that even included charts of gauge inaccuracies. I believe 3.47 pounds on the high side at 5000 feet. I have always noticed about 5 pounds difference. They do sell gauges that account for this but are expensive. Worth it for racing. Sorry I don’t have a link except Google search.

Geoff Baker
16 days ago

One thing thing that is most important when driving: READ THE ROAD SIGNS! When I teach people to drive their RV, they don’t read road sides – They do at the end of 8 hours.

Gary
16 days ago

Another click bait article that doesn’t tell us something we don’t already know.

Don Nedrow
16 days ago
Reply to  Gary

This article is a reminder to the longtime driver or for new drivers. It is great to remind some drivers what you need to be aware of.

Retired Firefighter Tom
16 days ago
Reply to  Gary

I’ve been RVing since 1981 and find information like this a good reminder of everything I should be doing. Approaching my late 70s a reminder is nice. Thanks, RVTravel.

Tom
16 days ago
Reply to  Gary

👎. Why not just move on, since apparently you alfeayknow everything

Gerald W
16 days ago

I have a 31′ class C E4500, and the only differences from driving a truck is maneuvering through tight spaces and watching the long rear overhang so that it doesn’t swing out too far left or right when turning sharply and strike nearby obstacles or vehicles. That long overhang also is famous for scraping the bottom rear and can do some serious damage if there is no strong skid pads when driving through steep driveway entrances.

James B
16 days ago

You can Learn a lot from a Defensive Driving Class,
1 thing I learned is to “Know the way is clear”.

DPHooper
16 days ago

What everyone else said.
Common sense, yes, trucks, or any driver should being doing the things listed.
Nothing new or different, a refresher possibly.

Michael
16 days ago

I guess it depends on your definition of “truck” and “RV”. Having driven semis and truck vans, driving a class A is almost exactly like driving a truck. Driving a pickup truck is like driving an automobile. Pulling a trailer is like pulling any other kind of trailer.

I am not sure this article taught anyone anything.

Leslie Berg
11 days ago
Reply to  Michael

One would expect a professional driver to be a very expert driver, but most of us aren’t. I find a HUGE difference between driving a coupe or sports car and driving an SUV, which doesn’t corner or stop with nearly the same responsiveness. Trucks are even less responsive than SUVs. And the wind resistance/sail effect of an RV is a whole new catagory of difficulty.

Dan
16 days ago

Some of the article must be missing from my computer screen, I didnt see the part that makes driving an RV different from driving a truck, a car, a motorcycle, or even a bicycle. All good common sense tips, but not specific to RVs.

Kman
16 days ago
Reply to  Dan

Pretty sure they’re talking pickup truck. Pre-trip checks don’t apply to most other modes of transportation. Great ideas. Hope those new to rvs pay close attention.

Eddie
16 days ago

Wasted reading space. Same as driving a truck and using common sense.

Kevin
16 days ago
Reply to  Eddie

Eddie, I disagree with your statement “Same as driving a truck”.
I don’t see trucks with jacks, shore power cords, or slide outs. The pre trip for a class a truck is much different than a motor home, travel trailer, or 5th wheel. The rv requires much different securing of items and the wind load on an rv is different than that of a truck.

Don
16 days ago

So which of these “special rules” do you think does NOT apply to truckers?
Sorry, but they all do. If you can drive a truck, you can certainly drive an RV…

Stephen Malochleb
16 days ago
Reply to  Don

Don I think they may have been talking pickup truck. I hope they weren’t trying to compare 18 wheelers or class A’s to 1 ton duallys. BIG DIFFERENCE. But you know salesman, they’ll say anything to make the sale.:):)

Bob p
16 days ago

Same thing when the news media reports truck accident, it could be a Mazda compact pickup but the media makes a big story by reporting big truck accident. I totally agree on the driving a truck and RV, since RV’s are built on truck chassis’s they should drive like a truck, once again journalism without research, just sit down and start typing, the general public will never know the difference.