Top 8 R.V. Travel Driving Tips


Prior to starting out on a trip or leaving a campsite: do a complete walk-around the unit to ensure all utilities are disconnected and all appropriate caps are in place, TV antennas are down, propane is shut off at the tank. Check oil, water, tires, signals & all lights are in working order; all tires are properly inflated and not damaged.

Check interior of trailer to make sure everything is closed & latched – make a permanent list & check it off each time you break camp.

RV Travel

RV Travel

Check the hitch for wear, lubrication, etc. before you start your trip. Don’t forget to lift the trailer high enough to clear the tailgate of the tow vehicle. Safety chains on trailers need to be strong enough to hold the weight of the trailer – and MUST be crossed.

Proper mirrors are a must. For every 10’ of trailer length you need a separate convex mirror that is 1” in diameter; for example a combined truck/trailer unit 40’ in length requires a separate convex mirror of at least 4” in diameter. Separate from your flat mirror (not a stick on) is also a “must” for maximum performance. Setting your mirrors, the rule of thumb is – set your flat mirrors so that you can see the trailer in the first 1” of the mirror, allowing the balance of the mirror for viewing backwards & out to the side. Once you have set up your mirrors, have someone walk to the rear of the trailer, take two paces out and walk towards the front of the unit to see when they disappear in your mirror (indicates where your “blind spots” are) do this for both sides.

Backing: whenever possible have a guide at the rear of the trailer, pick the mirror you want them to be visible in and if you lose sight of your guide – STOP – and wait until you make visual contact again before proceeding to back up. “Sight side” (left side) backing is preferred to “blind side” (right side) backing as you are able to see down the left side of the unit to the rear of the trailer. If a guide is not available, check the area before backing, don’t forget height as well.

Note that after 20 minutes of highway driving, the average driver has less than 50% of his attention span devoted to the actual process of driving. To help increase your attention span look ahead, 10 or 20 seconds to help sense potential problems. Don’t forget stopping distances will be significantly different than when you are driving a single vehicle. Also, when turning you will need more head and tail room than a car does. Your rear tires track inside of you front wheels, so your turns will need to be a little wider.

Space management: following distance is important – one second of following distance for every 10’ of combined length. Double it for adverse conditions, including night or twilight driving. Therefore; a combined vehicle of 40’ would require a minimum of 4 seconds of following distance in favorable daylight conditions and a minimum of 8 seconds during adverse or night driving conditions.

Braking: use gears wherever possible. If speed increases 5 mph in less than 5 seconds, you need the next lower gear. Complete that by braking gently to the speed that will allow a change to the next lowest gear.

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