RV Driving Safety Tips

Oh, the joys of the open road! With sales of Recreational Vehicles (RVs) increasing each year (55% increase from 2005 to 2007), more and more Canadians are enjoying the freedoms of RV'ing. But, as any RV driver can attest - driving an RV is quite different than driving a car and all RV drivers, whether experienced or new, should remind themselves of this fact each time they hit the road.

RV driving safety should be at the forefront of your mind with every trip. Whether your RV is a Class A motor home or a travel trailer, the same rules still apply. Focus, be careful and drive safe.

Keep Your Eyes on the Road

This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone with a valid, Canadian licence. Operation of a motorized vehicle demands your complete attention - whether you're traversing the flat lands of the prairies or making your way through rush hour traffic on the 401, your attention must be focused on the task at-hand.

Maintaining your focus on the road entails more than simply paying attention to what's directly in front of you. In fact, even though your vehicle is probably larger than most of those around you, you'd be surprised by how often other drivers will act as though you're invisible. Ask any driver of a large transport truck about this and you'll get the same response - people often treat large vehicles with less respect than others of their own size. As a result, you'll want to maintain a clear view of the road, preferably remaining 12 to 15 seconds behind traffic at highway speeds. If your RV is equipped with rear view cameras, make sure you make use of them while driving and not simply while in reverse.

Communication is Key

RVs are equipped with all of the same communication offerings as trucks or cars, but it is your job to ensure that you use them. Before you depart, make sure that all of your lights and signals are in good working order. And, when you are on the road, don't forget to use them to notify traffic of your intentions. Don't forget that your size prohibits you from making snap decisions and be sure to give other drivers a few extra seconds of warning before you suddenly turn or change lanes.

In Case of Emergency

Despite their size, RVs are not immune to breakdowns. Be prepared and bring along a safety and emergency kit to help you if you're stuck on the side of the road. If your vehicle doesn't already have roadside assistance, be sure to purchase it before you leave home (and be sure you have the type that can accommodate the larger size of your vehicle).

When required, pull over to the side of the road and turn on your flashers immediately. Place traffic cones and/or emergency markers around your vehicle to warn other motorists that you are no longer part of traffic. And, of course, be sure to pull over as far to the side of the road as possible to increase your own safety.

Be Sensible

Driving an RV is certainly different than driving a car. With larger units, crosswinds can often make you feel as though you're a sailboat on water. Your braking distance will be increased, meaning that you'll need to keep your distance from that charming car in front of you. Slow down in rainy or snowy conditions and drive at the appropriate speed for the conditions. Remember that driving along at 50 km/h in snow is not the same as 50 km/h on a bright, sunny day and your ability to react and/or come to a sudden stop varies greatly in differing conditions. Above all, use your common sense and remember that half the joy in Raving is getting there!