3 Beginner Mistakes to Avoid When Driving an RV

Renting a motorhome? Or perhaps thinking of buying one? Here's what you need to know about driving a big rig - even when there's no towing involved.

Driving a motorhome for the first time can be an intimidating experience. It's easy to make mistakes that could have been avoided with some basic preparation and knowledge.

Following a few key tips will help new RV drivers feel confident and avoid common beginner blunders behind the wheel. Steer clear of these 3 common mistakes on your first motorhome trip:

  1. Forgetting to adjust your mirrors
  2. Tailgating other vehicles
  3. Trying to take tight turns

Properly adjusting the mirrors provides visibility around the large vehicle. Leaving ample following distance allows safe stopping. Making wide turns prevents clipping curbs or obstacles.

By keeping these tips in mind for that first maiden motorhome voyage, new drivers will soon be cruising comfortably in their home on wheels.

A motorhome driving along the road with scenic view

Mistake #1: Forgetting to Adjust the Mirrors

On a first-time motorhome trip, it's easy to be eager to hit the open road. But in this excitement, new RV drivers often overlook one crucial step - adjusting the mirrors.

Once merging onto the highway, it quickly becomes apparent that visibility is limited around the large vehicle. The mirrors are still angled for the previous driver's height and seating position. This leaves new drivers struggling to check blind spots and see potential hazards ahead.

To avoid this mistake, take time before departure to adjust the side mirrors, rearview mirror, and any wide-angle mirrors. Position them for optimum visibility on all sides of the motorhome.

Properly adjusted mirrors make driving much easier by allowing drivers to clearly spot other vehicles, avoid clipping curbs, and watch for low clearances.

Mistake #2: Following Too Closely

In your car, you might typically leave one or two car lengths between you and the vehicle ahead. But that's not nearly enough buffer in a huge RV! You'll learn this lesson quickly when traffic slows on the freeway and you have to slam on your motorhome's brakes.

The huge vehicle won't stop on a dime like your sedan would. Your stomach will drop as you skid, terrified of colliding with the SUV in front of you. Thankfully, if you're lucky, you'll stop in time, with your heart racing!

Unlike a car, an RV needs much more stopping distance. Experts recommend keeping 5-6 seconds between you and the next vehicle. That can equal a few hundred feet at highway speeds.

It feels slow at first but leave ample room to brake gradually and avoid an accident. The size and weight of a motorhome don't allow for quick maneuvers. Following too closely is an easy mistake for new RV drivers to make.

Route 66 road with a RV on the side

Mistake #3: Taking Turns Too Tight

In your first week with the motorhome, imagine pulling into a gas station parking lot and hearing a sickening crunch. You've clipped the concrete curb, taking the turn too sharply!

Like many RV beginners, you're probably not used to the wider turning radius needed for a large vehicle. You take the corner as if you're still driving your compact car. Rookie mistake!

Thankfully, it's just a scrape and no serious damage. But it's a valuable lesson - always take turns wider than you normally would. Keep a lookout for curbs, poles, signs, or anything else you could sideswipe.

Before turning, check your mirrors and blind spots. Then, make your turn later and at a shallower angle. Aim your wheels towards the outside of the turn initially. Take it slow and steady.

It may feel awkward at first, swinging way out to make a wide turn. But soon, it will become second nature. Winding through roads and parking lots will be a breeze. Saving your RV's sides from scrapes and dents makes taking it a bit wider so worth it!

An important part of knowing your rig is knowing when you should pull over. Lucky for you, we have a post that talks about just that.

Woman is driving motorhome or campervan on the road outdoors in nature

RV Driving Tips For Beginners

Go Slow and Relax - You don't have to drive the speed limit. Experts recommend keeping it around 65 mph max. The motorhome will handle much better when you take it slower.

Avoid Small Gas Stations - Opt for truck stops where there's more room to maneuver. The separate RV pumps can be a lifesaver!

Practice Ahead of Time - Get used to how the motorhome turns, stops, and handles before your trip. Empty parking lots are great for practicing!

Plan Your Route - Use an RV GPS to map out wide turns and routes, avoiding low clearances. Having a plan will reduce your stress significantly.

Do a Walk-Around - Quickly inspect tires, lights, etc., before departing. It's easier to prevent issues than to fix them on the road!

Check Your Tires - Properly inflating your RV's tires to the manufacturer's recommended pressure improves safety, handling, and even gas mileage. Be sure to check your tire pressure regularly before each trip.

Adjust Your Mirrors - Ensure full visibility on all sides before you drive. This simple step will boost your confidence.

Leave Space - Avoid tailgating! Keep 4-6 seconds between you and other vehicles. An RV takes longer to stop.

Relax Your Grip - Don't grip the wheel too tightly. Gentle corrections will keep you centered in the lane.

Watch Turns - Take them wide to avoid clipping curbs and poles. It takes a while to get used to the turning radius.

Enjoy the Ride! - Driving an RV is part of the adventure. Embrace it and look forward to the amazing destinations ahead!

Key Takeaways For Your First Motorhome Trip

So, there you have it - the top 3 driving mistakes to avoid as a new RV driver.

You might clip some curbs, brake too hard, and overlook basic things during your initial trips. But experience is the best teacher. Start slow, stay alert, and don't panic. You'll soon master driving your home on wheels.

Looking back, you'll appreciate these majestic vehicles even more after conquering the learning curve. Yes, RVs are more challenging than cars, but they are incredibly rewarding once you're comfortable behind the wheel.

What other beginner fails would you add to this list? Share in the comments so we can all learn and have smoother first journeys in our motorhomes!

Driving a Motorhome for the First Time? Don't Make These 3 Beginner Mistakes!

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