Urban RV driving tips

8

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 mindless 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.

##RVDT1372 ##RVDT1395

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Impavid
3 months ago

Urban driving……been there, done that, got the T-shirt

Nanci
3 months ago

Road construction and a wrong turn led us through Las Vegas Strip at rush hour in a 40ft motorhome towing.. Got out by following a city bus to a main road.

Marvin
3 months ago

When we venture into terra incognita, I “drive” parts of the route ahead of time in Google Street View. This gives me landmarks to go by. [Turn left two blocks past the Denny’s]

If I need to, I can modify GPS instructions on my desktop computer, making whatever changes need to be made, and then send those instructions to my phone for turn-by-turn navigation on the road. Only once have we been surprised, and that was emergency road repair after a fire.

Ron T
3 months ago

I’m a paper map person myself, but occasionally get Google help from the wife’s phone when we’re just wingin’ it. I’ve only driven 24-26ft. Class C’s but never had any problems negotiating the bigger cities. The best advice is the same as pilots are constantly told – keep your eyes out of the cockpit as much as possible – i.e. watch what’s happening around you and look as far ahead as you can. Going anywhere southeast or east from Wisconsin involves driving through Chicago. I actually prefer taking the motorhome there as I have a better-higher perch to watch things from and even Illinois drivers will yield to larger vehicles if you use your signals well ahead of time and then make your move.

Gary Willey
3 months ago

Our RV has an automatic lane guide for both sides of the road. It is called my wife!

Robert Tarasek
3 months ago

My home batteries both 6v ,,,,what do you think of maintenace free

Donald N Wright
3 months ago

I still use maps on paper, so I can write road numbers on them, Using the phone, they sell advertisements when you really need directions and the route number is in 1/64″ print. I am starting to use “truck routes” as there is less traffic. (Also trucks are more polite than cars weaving back a forth)

Dan
3 months ago

Thank Heaven we can still get Rand-McNally on paper. I guess I’m just too old to listen to a GPS and navigate through unfamiliar cloverleafs at the same time. Oops! There’s my exit, three lanes over.