If you’re new to RVing, getting behind the wheel can feel a little intimidating. Driving an RV will feel a lot different from driving a car, and you should know what to expect before you hit the road; when operating such a large vehicle, the smallest mistake can be a huge risk for you and your passengers. Before you head out for your first camping trip, get a good idea of what to expect to avoid any dangerous flukes.
Keep height in mind
When you’re driving a car or truck, you rarely have to consider how tall your vehicle is; passing under bridges or visiting a fast food drive-thru is never much of a concern. With an RV, however, that’s not the case. Most RVs are 10-14 feet tall, and knowing the exact height can keep a tight squeeze from turning into an embarrassing disaster. Most overpasses can accommodate up to 16 feet, but if you’re visiting any sort of drive-thru, you might want to just park your rig and walk inside.
Gas stations can be tricky to navigate, too. You’ll have the best luck getting gas at a truck stop, but if you’re in a bind, just be sure that you’re not cutting it too close to the roof over the gas pumps. Have your traveling companion exit the vehicle and guide you as you approach the pump. If there are a lot of cars, or if the parking lot is pretty small, don’t risk it. Try to keep your tank relatively full to avoid these tricky scenarios.
Plan on wide turns
When operating such a large vehicle, you should always try to make turns as wide as possible. Turning right will bring you pretty close to some sort of curb, so a sharp turn could compromise your tires. Intersections can be tricky to navigate as well, but if you pull out a little further before turning the steering wheel, it’ll all be smooth sailing.
Don’t try to rush
This should be pretty obvious, but it’s important enough to mention anyway: speeding in an RV is dangerous and dumb. You’re towing thousands of pounds of weight, so braking will take more time than you might expect; if you’re speeding, this will be even more true, and you’ll be in trouble if the car in front of you stops suddenly. You should always maintain a safe distance between yourself and the vehicle ahead of you, as this will give you enough time to react. A huge part of owning an RV is enjoying the journey, so don’t be in such a rush to get to your next destination.
Anticipate bad weather
Driving any sort of vehicle in bad weather can be daunting, and this is especially true when you’re operating a big rig. Rain, fog, snow, or wind can turn the easiest trip into a dangerous one, so before you hit the road, check the forecast. If possible, avoid treacherous weather; it may seem like a pain, but a little patience could save your life. If driving is unavoidable, at least give yourself a little extra time to get from Point A to Point B.
If bad weather strikes unexpectedly while you’re out on the road, scout out a rest stop or another safe area to park away from the road. High wind can be especially dangerous when operating such a large vehicle, and trust us, it’s not worth the risk. If you come across standing water, don’t even try to drive through it.
Practice, practice, practice
If you’re still feeling a little uneasy behind the wheel, take your RV on a practice drive before your next road trip. A large parking lot can be the perfect place to practice wide turns and braking. Be sure to spend a little extra time perfecting your parking skills, too; it might save your from a few dents and dings and a whole lot of embarrassment later on.
Operating something so large can seem a little overwhelming, but a little practice and preparation will make your first road trip a breeze. If you’re in the market for a new RV, check out the new and used inventory at Patterson RV in Wichita Falls, Texas!