Hitting the open road with a camper or a motor home is a great way to kick off an adventure. More and more Canadians are enjoying the freedoms of RVing. However, as anyone who has driven an RV can attest – being behind the wheel of one of these larger vehicles is quite different from driving a car.
Whether you’re new to RVing or an experienced driver, those differences are something you need to keep top of mind every time you set out. Whether your RV is a Class A motor home or a travel trailer, the same rules still apply. Focus be careful and drive safe. Here are some things to keep in mind for your next RV expedition.
Keep Your Eyes on the Road.
This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone with a valid Canadian driver’s licence. Operating a motor vehicle demands your complete attention. Whether you’re crossing the flat lands of the prairies or making your way through rush hour traffic on the 401, your full attention must be focused on the task at-hand.
Maintaining your focus on the road involves more than simply paying attention to what’s directly in front of you. In fact, even though your RV is probably larger than most vehicles 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. Stay aware of other cars around you and the flow of traffic at all times.
Communication is Key.
RVs are equipped with all of the same communication offerings as trucks or cars, and it is your job to ensure that you use them. Before you set out, 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. Remember that your size prohibits you from making snap decisions, so be sure to give other drivers a few extra seconds of warning before you suddenly turn or change lanes.
In Case of Emergency.
Their larger size does not make RVs immune from 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 make sure that 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 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.
Driving an RV will frequently feel different from driving a car. With larger units, crosswinds can often make you feel as though you’re a sailboat on water, so keep both hands on the wheel at all times. The size and weight of an RV also mean that your braking distance will be increased, so you’ll need to keep your distance from the cars in front of you.
Slow down in rainy or snowy weather 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 dry roads on a sunny day, and your ability to react or come to a sudden stop varies greatly in differing conditions.
Above all, use your common sense and remember that the journey can be as much fun as the destination. Half the joy in RVing is getting there.