Urban RV driving tips


By Russ and Tiña De Maris


Some of the most white-knuckle experiences that RVers can have is negotiating urban traffic in an RV. Traffic is heavy, streets narrow, and things just seem so overwhelming. Here are a few tips to help you make navigating city streets easier on the nerves.

First, plan ahead. Map your route — don’t just depend on your GPS system — it can get you into trouble. Plotting your route on an Internet mapping service like Google Maps can give you a bird’s-eye view of the streets; and by using the “satellite” function, you can zoom in on streets in detail to get a feel for areas that may be too narrow to negotiate.

Planning also means avoiding high-traffic times. During the business week, traveling in early and late commuter traffic is a sure-fire recipe for nervous sweats. Sometimes weekends can be surprising. Trying to travel through Las Vegas on a Saturday morning can be a mind-blower — everyone has the day off and wants to get somewhere else.

Special street conditions with a large rig can cause consternation. Making corners with a big rig or with a trailer behind requires keeping an eye on your rear end. When approaching a turn, take it wide and keep an eye on your rearview mirror on the curb side. You don’t want to “bark your shins” by dragging your rear tires (or trailer) up over the curb.

Similarly, “roundabouts” or “traffic circles” are areas requiring close attention. Here you should keep tight to the curve and keep a close eye in your blind spot mirror. You need to watch out not just for your own rig, but for “idiot drivers” who want to play squeeze.

Approaching narrow sections of roadways, it’s important to be “lined up” in a good lane position. Keeping an eye on the right-hand curb with your rearview mirror, line up your rig by staying inside the centerline, but not too far in. Some motorhome drivers have found they can use their windshield centerpost as a reference point.

Got a back-up camera on your rig? Don’t just use it for backing up. Keep it turned on to keep a weather-eye on traffic behind you. And take full advantage of any extra eyes you have onboard. The person in the right-hand seat should act as your navigator, keeping watch for upcoming turns, invisible traffic, and the like.

photo: U.S. Highway Administration

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