Just a quick report on our RV adventures: we’ve taken a few more road trips since the weather started warming up, and just survived our first soggy May long weekend. While I left the driving to my husband during our first trip (and the second, and the third…), I finally worked up the courage to get behind the wheel myself.
Whew! What an experience. I was really nervous the first time, but my husband has a lot of experience driving larger vehicles and he helped me get the basics down. I’ve since become, well, not quite a pro, but a lot more confident than I was at first. Confident enough, at least, to pass along a few RV handling tips in case any of you are thinking about buying a recreational vehicle of your own.
Settle In Behind the Wheel
The first thing my husband encouraged me to do was acquaint myself with the driver’s seat area before I even fired up the ignition. I recommend following these simple steps to get yourself primed for the road:
- Take a moment to get to know the RV’s instrumentation panel, since most of them are a lot different than regular cars and trucks. My husband made sure I knew what every gauge was for before we moved on.
- Adjust the seat. Make sure the gas pedal and brake are both within easy, comfortable reach.
- Position the mirrors, making sure the side mirrors show the entire length of the RV, right down to the bumper. Thankfully, our RV has automatic mirrors, which made adjusting them a lot easier. But this isn’t a step to skip, even if the vehicle has manual mirrors.
Hit the Open Road!
Handling an RV takes quite a bit of getting used to, so I would suggest practicing in a large (and empty) parking lot before going out on the road. Get comfortable with:
- Turning: RVs have a wider turning radius than regular passenger vehicles, and I had to get used to pulling out a little further than usual to make a safe turn. Don’t worry if it’s tricky at first; practice makes perfect.
- Parking: Create imaginary parking boundaries, starting with generously sized ones and moving down to tighter ones. Practice parallel parking into a variety of space sizes.
- Braking: Because they’re heavier, RVs take longer to come to a complete stop.
Once I was ready to start driving on the street, my husband guided me through these additional handling tips:
- Avoid tight spots, like dead-end roads and narrow streets, since they create nightmares for RV drivers
- Signal turns further in advance than normal to give other drivers more time to react and prepare
- Don’t speed
- Allow for extra room; don’t follow other drivers too closely, and keep to the right as much as possible when on highways
- Take accurate height and width measurements to help avoid problems like low bridges and narrow tunnels
Again, it takes some patience to get this right. Don’t rush! Take your time and you’ll be fine.
I’m a little paranoid about fires in general, and when I heard that RVs have an increased fire risk, I decided to learn all I could about how to prevent one. Here’s the Coles Notes version of my hours of research to help you avoid RV insurance claims and possible injuries:
- RVs are at increased risk of fires because they contain more flammable components than everyday cars and trucks (such as fully functioning kitchens)
- Proper maintenance of all equipment and systems, especially ones that rely on combustion to work, is the key to prevention
- Make sure the vehicle’s engine and all its mechanical components are in good working order and properly maintained
- Have an experienced professional perform regular checks of all combustion systems and appliances, along with their lines and connections
- Never use frayed electrical cords in your RV; have any frayed cords promptly replaced
- When filling up on gas, make sure every potentially combustible system or appliance is turned off (including burners, pilot lights and ignition controls)
- Nobody should be in the RV during fuelling
- Never store propane tanks inside the RV
- Use carbon monoxide and smoke detectors inside your vehicle’s sleeping area
RV Insurance Claims: Make Sure You’re Carrying the Right Insurance Coverage
RV drivers in Alberta and Ontario should always carry a combination of up-to-date home and auto insurance to fully cover their recreational vehicles and the vehicle’s contents. InsureMy is a great source of information and flexible coverage plans if you’re looking for a new provider!