Starting out - practice makes perfect
Driving or towing a recreational vehicle can seem a bit overwhelming for the novice. But if you know how to drive, you already have the skills you need. It just takes a little effort and practice to adjust.
- Avoid heavy traffic until you have had a chance to brush up on your skills. Start with a couple of practice sessions in low traffic, where you can get used to how your vehicle handles, feel comfortable with your mirrors, and work on your turns and curves.
- Be aware that because your vehicle is heavier than a car, it will take longer to speed up and slow down.
- Remember to allow lots of room and turn extra wide.
- Practice backing up and parking in a large, obstacle-free space such as an empty parking lot, if possible.
- Practice, practice, practice!
If you are towing a trailer
- Make sure you have the proper towing vehicle for your trailer. Check your towing vehicle instruction manual for information on the trailer types it can pull and the maximum weight it can handle.
- The right trailer hitch is essential. Use the proper hitch for your trailer and attach it correctly. Always double check that it is secure before starting out.
- Connect brakes and signal lights. Always check that the trailer’s brakes, turn signals and tail lights are synchronized with those of the towing vehicle.
- Always check legislation for special requirements when towing. For more information: http://www.rvda.ca/default.asp?action=RVDA_regulations
Before you hit the road
You want to ensure everything is safe and secure before you set out on the road with your motor home.
- Walk around your vehicle and do a spot check. Are all doors and hatches closed? Are hoses, power cords and other gear properly stored?
- Check your tires.
- Make sure no fluids are leaking.
- Inside your motor home, check that no loose objects are sitting out and that refrigerator and cabinet doors are securely closed.
- When you get into the driver’s seat, make sure your mirrors are properly adjusted. Check the engine gauges and turn on your headlights.
- Buckle up and make sure your passengers are wearing seat belts. Remember the number of people in your motor home must not exceed the number of seat belts in the motor home.
- Look ahead and up before pulling out. Check for traffic from all directions. Watch for low-hanging tree branches, signs or other objects.
Out on the road
Courtesy, alertness and adapting your driving to the size and maneuverability of your vehicle will help keep you safe on the road.
- Match your speed as closely as possible to the traffic around you. You will most likely be among the slowest vehicles on the road, so use slow lanes where possible. Be courteous and use turnouts when there are several vehicles behind you that wish to pass.
- Keep in mind that the drivers behind you will be able to see ahead more easily if you do not drive right next to the centre of the lane. Try to keep to the side, if possible.
- Check side and rearview mirrors constantly and be aware of the vehicles around you at all times.
- Always use your turn signals well in advance, and remember to turn them off when not needed.
- Allow more time to brake or change lanes since motor homes, because they are bigger vehicles, take more time to accelerate and slow down.
- When on curves, keep in mind that the centre of gravity of your recreation vehicle is higher than that of a car, so slow down more than you normally would before entering a curve, and then in the curve, apply steady power.
- Take corners a little wider. Pull out straight, and then turn a little later than you would in a normal length car.
It can be challenging to move in and out of tight parking lots with a motor home. Keep the following in mind.
- Do not begin pulling into a parking lot unless the vehicle in front of you has moved far enough ahead to let you get the entire length of your vehicle in. You don’t want to be hanging out in traffic!
- Look for parking spaces where you can pull through to leave. Avoid having to back out, if you can.
- The rear end of your vehicle protrudes out beyond the rear wheels. This means that when you turn your vehicle to the right, the rear end will be moving to the left. Watch for people and obstacles such as signs in this area.
- Stay away from dips and depressions in the parking lot. They could damage the underside of your vehicle.