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Old 11-15-2012, 08:19 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Roadweary View Post
Good explanation. I've got a new motorhome on the way and one of my first tasks will be to find that "sight spot" and apply a little black dot on the windshield. Second task will be to measure the total height :-). Gary
Let me give you a different perspective on that technique.

The problem with the dot is that there are some factors that will change. The biggest being whether or not your normal eye position is consistent. Do you have the seat adjusted the same way every time? To you tilt your head under certain situations? Is that lane the same width?

I got driving lessons from a professional truck driving instructor with whom I also have shared several hours in a small plane we flew in a flight club. We are both flight instructors so my approach to driving my MH is shaped by my instrument flight experience where these factors are important to understand.

In instrument flight, scan, scan, scan. Yet, depending on what your situation is, WHAT you scan is critical. For example, if one is climbing or descending then scanning instruments that reflect those tasks become more important than say, the fuel gauge. The trick it to not get sucked into fixating on any one instrument.

So....

Perhaps the most important transference of that background comes to play with use of the mirrors and which ones to use. Generally speaking...

1. My prime lane control mirror is my driver side mirror. It doesn't matter what is on my right side in another lane because if I track my left side reference the left lane line, my right side will be in my lane. That doesn't mean I ignore my right mirror but it is easy to get fixed on that mirror when being passed on the right side. You generally need to turn your head a bit more and when you do that, there is a natural tendency to put a counter force on the steering wheel (yoke) which may cause you to actually cross the line on the left. The left mirror is much easier to scan without moving your head a lot. Of course, when changing lanes or making turns to the right, the right mirror is a MUST.

2. When backing into a space, don't forget to use all mirrors and readjust to meet your needs. It can be very effective to tilt your flat mirrors down to see a less distorted picture of your tire placement reference any lines or other markings you use to align yourself. HINT...even in a flat mirror, parallel lines will not appear parallel. This similar to parallax. An example of parallax is when you are riding in a car with a speedometer with a needle. The driver sees 55 looking straight at it but your angle causes you to see something different. So, if in your mirror the edge of your MH side appears parallel to an extended line behind you, that doesn't mean it is so. A line on the ground (like a parking line) that appears to be parallel to your side behind you is actually slightly converging towards you.

My wife Sandee was having a problem in lane control because she spent too much time worrying about the right mirror. It didn't matter whether she was worried about curbs or cars. I finally got her to rely on letting the left mirror do the work and when she did that, she stopped crowding the right side curb/lane. The other thing she gained was that by keeping her head pointed more inline with the coach that she more quickly developed "the picture" of what it should look like out the front window when properly in the lane.

In the end, driving these big rigs requires a certain amount of faith (trust through verification with scan of mirrors) that others will also stay in their lane. Ya, it doesn't always work that way but that is why you keep a good scan going all the time to anticipate both our and other's potential for "departure from controlled flight". Scan, keep an eye for escape routes and control your MH.
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Old 11-15-2012, 10:04 AM   #30
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On my Canyon Star, if the left side of the driver's airbag hatch is lined up with the left lane line, I am centered in the lane. Having that quick reference is handy when you get into tight areas and can't quickly check the mirrors - like narrow lane shifts in road construction areas, or when entering a tight toll booth. (By the time you can see the toll booth in your side mirrors, it's too late.)

Your first instinct will be place yourself in the lane in the same spot where you sit in the car, and you will be too far to the right. Getting comfortable driving with the RV centered, even though you will feel like you are over the left line, will take a little while but it becomes automatic after a few long drives.

Always use the side mirrors when turned. There is a long distance between your wheels and the coach on the inside of the turn will move out of your lane. The rear of the coach may move out of the lane on the opposite side. Right hand turns into single lanes and getting around gas pumps is a little tricky. (Since you have a DP, that might be easier. My gasser has to go on the auto side at truck stops, which gets interesting sometimes. I will wait for someone to finish to get an easier spot to fill up, vs. trying to force the coach into the first free space.)
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Old 11-15-2012, 10:32 AM   #31
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I agree with you about the mirrors, especially the driverís mirror, being the first line of defense. As you say, scan, scan, scan.... But I also find that there are times when I donít feel I can divert my eyes from the road for even a second. Road construction is sometimes like this. In Sun Valley this summer they diverted my lane onto the SIDEWALK to avoid a lane they had excavated six inches. I used the site dot to grab every possible inch of that white knuckle quarter mile. And does anyone else find that if their dayís travel takes them across one narrow bridge, and there is only one semi truck coming their way that day, the cosmos will insure that you, the truck and the bridge all arrive at exactly the same time. That little windshield dot calms me slightly.

And youíre right that the dot position in my coach only works for me. If Iíve moved my seat during camping, I use the dot to recalibrate my seat when I first take off in the morning.

So weíve covered boats and now planes. Iím wondering if there are any rail engineers out there?
Gary
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Old 11-15-2012, 08:28 PM   #32
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Your first instinct will be place yourself in the lane in the same spot where you sit in the car, and you will be too far to the right. Getting comfortable driving with the RV centered, even though you will feel like you are over the left line, will take a little while but it becomes automatic after a few long drives.
A funny story that many have undoubtedly found themselves cast in as well ... When we first started motor homing, we got in the bus and started out with virtually no experience. Figuring out where the bus was on the road was the real challenge. As we drove down the road for the first few miles, my wife, in the co-pilot seat, kept shouting "White Line, White Line!" Dutifully, I moved over but then immediately felt like I was riding directly on the Yellow Line and had gotten too far left!

The dance repeated itself several times over the next hundred miles until we both got a bit more comfortable with the entire sensation of being so high on the road with so much of the motor home spread out in our lane from Yellow to White lines. We laugh about that story now, but at the time, it was real white knuckled panic for both of us all the way -- probably just like it was for many of us!

As time has passed and we got more and more experience, I realized that instinct and intuitive sense of where the motor home is on the highway is the best indicator of whether or not you are positioned correctly -- very much like sailing when the wind comes off the sail and into your face and you just know whether your point of sail is correct and "in the slot". Once you locate the slot, you know where you need to be and you instinctively find that place each time after.

I remember a seasoned RV'er telling us once that "the first hundred miles will scare the heck out of you; the next hundred miles will feel to you like 'Geez, we can do this', and the next hundred miles will simply be a breeze and put a huge smile on your face. Those things, to me, are exactly what our experience has been. Once you get past the enormity of the scare and just do it for a while, you 'get it' -- and once you do, it is easy.

I have to say that I really, really enjoy driving the motor home. It's just a real hoot. I have had friends who travel say 'Don't drive through Washington or Atlanta or Boston, make sure to skirt the cities at all times.' I don't see the need for that. In fact, I think it's a fun challenge to thread your way through inner city traffic. I have driven in all of the worst city traffic and never felt ill at ease. I just love the feeling you get tooling this big beautiful home on wheels around the country. It is just a lot of fun what we do in this hobby and life style.

The best advice I ever got in driving the motor home was from a Canadian truck driver we met while picking up our Ventana in Ft. Myers. He said "Always look way ahead on the road in front of you and make every move slowly and deliberately -- if people want to pass, let them; being slow is being safe." He was definitely right. With motor home driving, slow is the key to lots of good things -- safety and comfort, the best fuel economy, seeing the beauty of your surroundings, enjoying the ride.

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Old 11-16-2012, 05:53 AM   #33
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Welcome to a cool way to travel. You are going to enjoy the experiance.

We bought our first MH in 2006. Never had a trailer or tent or anything. It was quite a learning curve.

It took me a while to find out that the speedometer was off in our bus. The first couple trips I decided to drive the speed limit and had everyone passing me because I was actually driving under the speed limit! Those 2 trips were the most relaxing drives of my life, as I did not have to worry about passing anyone. I now try to drive slower than usual in my MH and it is always much more relaxing and safer, even if it takes a little longer (my wife wishes I would drive my cars slower also - LOL!).

I will tell you the same thing we tell our snowmobile students during training classes: It takes much more time and distance to stop than you are use. These machines are heavy and have good brakes, but they will not stop as fast as you are use to in a car. Remember your high school drivers training class? We were taught to leave 3 seconds of space between your car and the next one in front of you. I am sure this what you do in your car today, right? I suggest you add a couple extra seconds to what is recommended for your car when driving your MH.

My Ventana has the optional big mirrors on it. If your rig does not, talk to a dealer about the possiblity of upgrading. Your mirrors are really helpful in backing. They also let you see around your rig when driving down the highway so that you can make safer lane changes.

Take your rig out to some big open parking lot with another person. Spend sometime backing and turning the rig around at slow speeds - with and without help. The more you practice in the wide open, the better you will be once you get into tight quarters.

It will be tough at first, but you must remember that your bus is much wider than your car, therefore, you set farther to the left. You will find yourself crowding the passenger side of the highway because you are use to postioning yourself closer to the center of the lane in your car. After 5 years of driving the bus, I still catch myself doing it.

Take your time making turns. Do not worry about cars behind you being impatent. I usually wait on a RH turn until I can swing out into the other lane to make sure not to hit anything. If you run a wheel up onto a curb, I recommend stopping and slowly backing back off the curb to reposition the bus to make a clean turn. With some of the taller curbs, if you continue forward you risk hitting and damaging something on the bus when you bounce down off the curb.

You need to be careful about driving thru too steep of dip, like leaving the road to enter a fuel station. This can cause the back of your rig to come too close to the ground damaging something. I have a flatter than stock chrome exhaust pipe because of this mistake.

Remember when driving down steep hills, use the transmission to help control the bus by down shifting. I forgot this the first time i was in the mountains and didn't do my brakes any good.

You will be surprized how quickly you get use to driving. It is much easier than I thought it would be. I grew up on a farm and am use to driving big machines, but was still a little scared to drive my bus. They are really designed to be easy to use.

Have fun, and good luck...

Ma Snart
REALLY appreciate your post here. Sounds like good practical practices. I do wish I had the opportunity to have driven our coach before going into storage then I could better relate to posts here that have provided advice. I'll be re-reading this thread in the Spring. It will be a long Winter but a good opportunity to prepare and learn. We are anxious to get out and experience the lifestyle.

When we were boating it was always a question - which did we enjoy more - the journey or the moorings/marinas where you have an opportunity to meet new people.
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