Driving the RV is usually the most important part of your RV rental trip. You should not worry too much about driving and do not let this be a concern when you plan your trip because once you familiarise yourself with the RV, driving it should be fairly comfortable. Follow our tips below to be careful and have a safe RV rental trip.
RV Orientation – Should Include a driving Lesson
Usually, for any RV rental trip, you will get an orientation of the entire RV and in most cases, it includes driving the RV. If your RV rental owner is dedicated and pleasant, he or she would take you on a small drive which would familiarise you with the RV driving operations as well as make you comfortable with driving the RV.
But there is no surety that every RV rental follows this policy. If you are worried about driving, you should enquire at or before you book your rental RV. You can also insist on a small drive as part of your RV orientation.
However, if you have driven a small to medium U-Haul trucks and occasionally if you have pulled some trailers behind your truck, you should be comfortable, and driving an RV should not be a big issue.
Eyes On The Road Always!
Since you are traveling with your family and driving a heavy RV or a trailer so your attention should always be focused on the road. You should have minimal or no distractions. Your eyes and concentration should always be on driving the RV because it’s a heavy vehicle. You need more braking distance hence it needs more attention.
Always Have A Companion When Driving The RV
This is all the more important when you are driving long distances.
It is advisable to have a passenger who can complement your driving.
If there happen to be any difficult situations, they can keep an eye out for you and take care of any minor things like playing music in the RV or handling your cell phone (for example, to make an urgent call), or talk to someone in the rear.
This will help you as a driver to stay focused on the road.
Handling a Bulkier Vehicle Like an RV Requires Concentration
Most of the rental RVs are much heavier than regular personal vehicles. An RV rental is different from a car rental since most of the cars, SUVs, and minivans are in the range of approximately 3000 pounds whereas most of the rental RVs are approximately anywhere from 10000 to 20000 pounds. This means that driving an RV needs almost three or four times more concentration and care.
Longer Braking Distance For an RV
As mentioned earlier, RVs are heavier hence they need much more braking distance when you are driving on a highway or even on local roads. Give at least two or three times more braking distance than for a regular passenger car or SUV. If you are not really sure what an adequate braking distance is, look around how the heavy 18-wheels trucks are driving. Those drivers are usually professionals and they follow safe driving practices. They keep the proper distance and give themselves enough margin for a change in lanes.
Take Wide Turns When Driving The RV
Most of the rental RVs are much longer.
They could be anywhere between 20 to 35 feet which means that on turning, you need to take extreme care.
Before you hit the big roads, if possible, try taking some turns for practice in your surroundings or in a small parking lot to get a feel of what it’s like.
If you are still not confident with turning, always take turns very slowly and carefully.
Backup or Reverse The RV Carefully
On a rental RV trip, you will need to back the RV in certain cases. For example, you might need to do it in your RV campground or maybe at some local state or national park, or maybe to turn around.
In these cases, you should take extra care. If possible, take a walk through to get an assessment of the situation and to make sure that there are no small stones or obstructions that can damage the undercarriage or the tanks of the RV. It is even better if you could have someone spot and guide you at places that are difficult to back the RV.
Most modern RVs have rearview cameras – use it but don’t completely rely on it and do the double checks as mentioned.
Be Careful of The Low Lying Branches
When you are driving the RV, always keep an eye that there are no low lying branches that can damage the roof of the RV. If you are driving on highways or roads where you see other 18-wheeler semi-trucks driving, the low-lying branches should not be an issue because these heavy trucks clear the roads and if any low lying branches happen to be there on the way, these vehicles will clear them up and keep the road safe for your RV.
However, if you are traveling on roads where you don’t see much bigger vehicles (in the case of offbeat roads), you need to be extremely careful of the branches which are not high enough.
For example, if your RV is 12 feet, you should look out for low-lying branches. Similarly, branches that can swipe the side of the RV are to be avoided as well. These may look insignificant and harmless but if some of them leave scratches or damage any fixtures of the RV like the RV awning or any other fixtures on the outside of the RV, it could result in a damage claim by the RV owner on the renter.
Keep Within The Speed Limits
Usually, the class A, B, and C RV rental vehicles are much heavier and therefore should follow the truck speed limits.
For example, if the posted speed limit on a highway is 70 Miles then the posted speed limits for the trucks will be 60 miles i.e. 10 miles slower than the normal speed limit. You should also follow the flow of the traffic and use your judgment when driving an RV but at any point where you are not confident, decrease the speed and slow down.
Slowdown To Negate The Wind And Swaying
If you are driving through open areas such as plains where there are heavy wind gusts, you would feel a very strong wind. This is because most of the rental RVs have long surfaces that can resist the wind and therefore you will feel your RV getting pushed along with the wind. In such cases, you should slow down which will give you better control of the RV.
Another situation where you may feel a wind sway is when there are other heavy vehicles passing by. You will feel that the RV is getting sucked into the air current that the other speeding vehicles will leave behind. Again, slow down or move to a slower lane where you have less wind and swaying to handle.
Driving The RV in Construction Zones
If you are going on a long trip, it is very likely that you would enter places where construction is going on.
The construction, the lane becomes narrower. In such circumstances, you should slow down the vehicle to the point you feel comfortable.
Driving The RV In Snow
The RV rental vehicles are much heavier as mentioned earlier (they weigh 10,000-20,000 pounds). If the snow is mild, driving an RV should not be a problem but if the snow is heavy and there are local travel advisories, you should follow them and exercise caution while driving through snow
Mountain driving on major highways should not be an issue because semi-trucks and other vehicles commonly go through it.
But if you are off the major highways and going through some local roads on mountains in Colorado or other places, you should follow the road signs.
If the road signs do not prevent heavier vehicles like your rental RV from driving, driving in a mountainous area should be completely fine.
But if it is one of your first times driving an RV, use extreme care, slow down, turn carefully, and follow the speed limits. Follow your common sense guidelines and in any situation where you are not comfortable, just slow down until you feel confident of getting control of the RV.
Don’t Worry About Honking
When you are driving an RV in one of your first or initial trips and you follow the guidelines that we have mentioned above, you may end up getting a lot of honks because of the slow driving.
Do not worry about that! It is our suggestion to get a sign which says “new renter, please be patient” (or something similar), and stick it at the back of the RV. Usually, people will be respectful of the sign you put.
It is better to take a few honks and drive carefully than to get into a situation because of worrying about the honks that you don’t want to be in.
Need more tips before you take on the RV wheels for the first time? Click here.
Conclusion – Be Cautious And Not Fearful To Have a Fun Time
To conclude, driving an RV should not be something that you should be fearful of. You should not refrain from planning and going on an RV rental trip because of driving but at the same time, you should know the dos and don’ts. You should always be alert and not get distracted or overconfident. Follow safe driving practices to keep your family safe and have a pleasant RV rental trip.
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