RVers may spend more time behind the wheel than the average driver. That gives us plenty more opportunities to do something bone-headed and get into an accident. Here’s the Top 12 list of driver errors. Check them out and see if perhaps you need to make any adjustments to keep yourself—and others—safer on the road.
1. “Camping” in the fast lanes
If you’ve spent any time watching truck-driver-produced Instagram videos, you’ve seen it. Somebody plunks their car, truck, or motorhome somewhere other than in the right hand lane—and sits there. No matter that folks are zipping past them on the right, they’re just GLUED to that lane. Hey, this is an easy one. That old left lane is the OVERTAKING lane. If you’re not overtaking another driver, stay out of it!
2. Brake jamming without cause
A major cause of traffic accidents—the yo-yo who jams on the brakes for no reason. Do you need to slow down? Unless there’s an emergent condition, slowing down gradually may save a rear-end collision.
3. “Turn signal forgetfulness”
That little lever on the steering column is there for a reason. And yes, it’s more than just a place to rest your fingers. Forgetting to use the turn signal when making a lane change or turning a corner is bound to catch folks by (unnecessary) surprise. Don’t forget to switch off the signal when you’ve completed the maneuver!
4. Lane changing in a turn
Crossing out of your lane while making a turn can lead to unwelcome “incursions” with other vehicles. Yes, larger rigs like motorhomes and folks towing trailers and fifth-wheels may, of necessity, have to make a wide turn. But don’t go where you don’t need to go. If you need to be in a different lane after you make the turn, stay in the lane you’re coming in from, then, after the turn is complete, switch to the lane you need. And don’t forget those turn signals!
5. Brake rider
Some folks just seem to think that since you have two feet, you need to use both at once. One on the gas, the other on the brake—not necessarily pushing it down, just resting it there. Others, at the stop line, push down the brake with the left foot, and keep the right on the gas. It’s a driver error that’s hard on the brakes and can create a jerky approach to driving. Give your left foot a rest—use the right foot for both the brake and the accelerator.
RVers have an additional “brake riding” warning. Riding the brakes on a downgrade can lead to a loss of brakes. Need to slow down on the downgrade? Drop down to a lower gear and let engine compression help slow you. Still need to scrub off speed? Push firmly on the brake, drop down to 10-miles-per-hour less than your safe descent speed, then get off the brake. Don’t touch it again until you go over your safe speed. This proven method will go a long way to keeping your brakes cool and usable.
6. Speeding through that yellow light
Approaching a traffic light that shows yellow apparently is tantamount to waving a red cloth at a bull. Yellow means SLOW. Which pedal is your right foot on? Should be the brake!
7. Crosswalk non-stop?
Pedestrian in the crosswalk? Exercise that right foot on the brake pedal. Fines for ignoring pedestrians can be steep—$280 in California. Must you stop for the pedestrian who is waiting to cross at a crosswalk? Generally, no. But best to brush up on state laws where you travel. Here’s another great idea: If you’re stopping at the crosswalk, turn on your hazard flashers to give folks behind you a warning.
8. High-beam Harry
One of our “favorite” driver errors is that fellow who leaves his high beams on. State laws may lay out precisely how close you may come to an oncoming vehicle or to one traveling ahead of you in the same direction. But who’s gonna get out and measure the distance? If you can see the headlights or taillights, turn down your high beams.
9. Failing to set those side mirrors
It seems for some, side-mounted mirrors are like the ones at home above the bathroom sink. They adjust the mirrors to see as much of themselves as they can! But the idea is to adjust them to barely see your rig, and to see as much of whatever else you can see—like overtaking traffic. Driving the toad car? Set that “over the dash” mirror so you can look up and see straight back through the rear window—without having to move your head. Leave the self-idolization in the bathroom.
10. Too comfortable seating
No, we don’t mean you should install bleacher seating in your rig. But those who set the driver seat too far back from the wheel may not be able to keep good control. Too much comfort can lead to lack of attention to traffic. Set your seat up and keep both your hands on the wheel.
11. Parking on the green
When the traffic light changes to green, be ready to roll. We’ve all been in the situation where the guy at the stop line is lolly-gagging and just sits when the light changes. We recently were behind just such a person—they were applying makeup when the light changed and just stayed put. Unfortunately, traffic in all other lanes rolled out, giving the impression our lane was moving too. Nope—and sad to say, that lady in the van coming up behind us insinuated her rig into the rear of our car. And, oh yeah, “makeup” driver pulled out and headed west—right after we got smacked.
12. Celly behind the wheel
The final driver error—using the phone while driving. Even if you have “hands free” capability, that doesn’t free up your mind for a conversation. Keep your mind in the game (i.e., driving). If you need to talk, pull off the road and make your call.