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Old 07-19-2011, 09:44 PM   #15
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I drove a school bus while I was in college and grain trucks when I farmed. The main thing is to watch out for the other guy. An RV will NOT stop on a dime but many people seem to think they will. Both DW and I took a driving course so either of us could drive. When we hit traffic, she helps me out when I change lanes. We say that it takes both of us to drive it in traffic. As the others pointed out, it takes practice, practice, practice. I would also suggest that short driving days will help as we like to get off of the highways before the commuters head for work or for home. We have seen too many people texting, doing makeup, or just not paying attention. We figure that we have more time than they do so we stay out of their way. We also signal truckers as to when they can pull back into the lane and they will often do the same for us.

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Old 07-20-2011, 06:49 PM   #16
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I learned how to drive mine in Seattle rush hour traffic. We then took a trip down the coast on hiway 101. By the time we got back, I felt pretty comfortable with it.

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Old 07-20-2011, 11:41 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Funbunny View Post
How do you learn to drive the motorhome of your dreams when you've never driven something that big before? Where do you practice?

Today I was on the highway in my minivan having to drive next to all these huge trucks and oversized loads thinking, "How would I do this in a Class A?"
I feel your pain and your angst! I am pretty new to this too and still find myself holding my breath when I am on the interstate and find myself between an 18 wheeler and the concrete barrier!!!

I have not taken a driving course, but can see how it would be a very, very smart idea! I noticed that many of the positive responses ("go for it") to your question were from drivers who had previous experience with bigger vehicles like buses, military trucks, etc. some time in their past. IMHO without SOME big rig experience, I just don't think you can jump into a bigger motorhome without some instruction. Parking lot practice is certainly a minimum! And don't forget your rig is tall and you will hit the roofs of guard shacks if you get too close to them as you drive by, or bump up under roofs over gas pumps, etc. I will admit that I have taxi'd a B-52 around for a few miles here and there...and after learning to properly taxi one (paid for by the USAF) I can turn them and follow a taxi line pretty good. So I felt like I should be able to safely drive a motorhome, and it seems that the experience does translate pretty well and I have been able to make it around ok.

However, I am still trying to break the habit of keeping my body in the center of my lane as I drive. I need to re-train myself to keep my body closer to the centerline (the left third of my lane) and not put my body in the center of my lane like I do with a car. If I do find my body lined up in the middle of my lane while driving the motorhome, my right tires are on or over the right white edge line of the road, and I set off the warning song etched into the road to warn dumb or distracted drivers! So, if you have no experience driving a long vehicle, then I think investing in a driving course would be a very wise investment. Good luck!
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Old 07-21-2011, 02:04 AM   #18
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Just get in and drive. It's really not a big deal, just practice some. Leave lots of extra room ahead of you for extended braking distance. Watch the rear end swing in tight spots. Go out and get some seat time, and you should be fine.
I guess taxiing could help if you can find a spare jet sitting around to play with. Nothing like lining a heavy 767 up for a crosswind, rainy/snowy approach at Chicago, hand flying it all the way down. I think that helped me ease the motorhome into a parking lot once.

So just go drive. Don't be timid, control the vehicle. It will do whatever you command it to do. I think you'll find it's far simpler than advertised.
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Old 07-21-2011, 03:49 AM   #19
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Just get in and go drive, practice in your yard and drive way, take a short drive or 2 at non peak traffic hours, sit in you M/H and look at your mirrors soon it will become second nature just like your car. Most importantly don't tailgate, thats going to get you in trouble quicker than any thing else. Now we are all looking for cheap fuel and a lot of times its at smaller stations and conv stores, just remember when you drive in some where you will at some point need to drive out, backing up at gas stations is never a treat.
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Old 07-21-2011, 08:51 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Submustang View Post
I learned how to drive mine in Seattle rush hour traffic. We then took a trip down the coast on hiway 101. By the time we got back, I felt pretty comfortable with it.
Hey I know how it feels. My first day driving was picking up the MH in BC and heading to California and ended up in Seattle rush hour traffic in the rain. Big mistake. But the second day was Portland OR( rush hour in the rain). All I can say is that Seattle prepared me for Portland.
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Old 07-21-2011, 09:18 PM   #21
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Another treat is driving through Portland OR just after they reopened I-5 after a snow/ice storm. That's when the idiots in cars come out. Try leaving a good stopping distance and you'll have six cars jump over in front of you! And yes, a 41' DSDP handles snow very well even without chains on. I've done it more than once.
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Old 07-21-2011, 11:10 PM   #22
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I saw the title and thought I might be able to contribute something but you've already gotten great advice above... and I picked up a few tips myself.

I'm all for driving classes and would like to take one someday myself, but at least in my case, I was the odd one who bought a new 40' DP as my first RV and drove it off the lot... having never driven anything bigger than a pickup towing a ski boat. I had an old boss who used to say that "it's funny how quickly people can grow.... when you put 'em on the rack! I guess that's the sink or swim mentality.

I had to laugh at the references to being between an 18 wheeler and a concrete construction barrier. Today we covered the 400 miles from Yellowstone to Coeur d' Alene, Idaho. Going through northern Montana there was a LOT of construction. They were chip sealing the slow lane and had all traffic down to a single lane at 35 mph. I passed a flagman who was not doing any flagging and suddenly found myself with about an inch on either side between the concrete barriers and the huge blacktop machine! I didn't hear any loud noises so I think it turned out ok.

Best of luck to you, whatever you decide but don't get too worked up over driving a big rig being too tough. We all do it and manage to get around the country without running into each other very often so it can't be all that tough. Just give the rig the respect it deserves.

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Old 07-22-2011, 03:58 PM   #23
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I taught my 20 year old son to drive ours in a mega church parking lot, lots of turns to get the feel of how much room it takes.
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Old 07-22-2011, 08:33 PM   #24
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Similar to what the others said. I learned in the open desert and lesser used roads before I moved onto freeways and such. Hubby was the first to drive and just had to learn as he went.

RV Driving schools and online videos are a good option too.

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Old 07-22-2011, 08:49 PM   #25
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I found a local community college that has a large Class A CDL program and an occasional Class B course. I took the full-up Class B course and feel like many of the things I didn't have to know were worth learning. Having a CDL even has a small positive impact on insurance rates.
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Old 07-23-2011, 09:16 AM   #26
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Driving courses at a local community college are a great idea, but any large vehicle driving school will be fine IF you can find one. An alternative would be to visit your local transit agency (or maybe the school district bus barn) and ask if any of their drivers or instructors could help you out in their off-hours. A small county agency might even let you sit in on one of their driver training courses for a fee.

I found the transition to a 30' DP transit coach fairly straightforward when I first started as a bus driver (at age 62). Stepping up to a 35 and then a 40 was a bit daunting, particularly the 40-footer in city rush-hour traffic. The agency I worked for didn't have articulated buses or double-deckers (known in Latte Land as "double talls").

You don't need all the Hazmat and double trailer stuff - training up to Class B (with airbrakes endorsement - if your rig has them) would be enough.
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Old 07-23-2011, 09:24 AM   #27
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Practice, practice, practice, after a few thousand miles you'll be a pro.
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Old 07-23-2011, 10:42 AM   #28
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Taking a driving course is a good idea--not matter how much experience you have---one day for sure.

All my experience is OJT----but I have driven Duce and a Halfs and M48 medium tanks (those references will age some of us) so I am not intimidated by the thought.

Although I do not find MH driving complicated, once you learn the basics, I do find that it takes constant attention while on the road. That difference means, at least for me, I limit my saddle time to about 250 miles per day many times less. Not so much because I cannot go farther, I have before, but it just saps the fun out of it for me. I'm ready to kick back about three in the afternoon-----nothing quite like it---traveling and sleeping in your own bed. I hate to hurry.

I taught a friend to drive my rig and my eldest son and daughter. They accompanied me when driving from home to my destination making a guy thing or a son and daughter thing out of the trip and giving me company. They all did fine, because basically just getting in and going down the road is not too much of a problem once you learn some basics. Teaching another helps refine your own knowledge.

The experience/ training factor comes in when you get into the exceptions when driving; weather, traffic, construction, wind. Nothing like a panic stop (successful that is) to let you know you are doing it right. I've had one in nine years and that is enough for a lifetime. It is a good thing a miss is as good as a mile. Durn California (or any for that matter) freeways just take the fun out of it---so do people who cut in front and slam on their brakes.

My friend who drove my MH decided to get a part time job as a bus driver---he credits the MH experience/my training for helping him a great deal. My daughter, it turns out was the best of all the three, she is confident but alert and reserved. She actually backed up with a trailer on and me spotting---she did just fine. My eldest son is a lead foot---which does not convert well to MH's so I limited him on speed and made a bet as to who could get the best gas mileage. He is competitive so he bit. I won, incidently.

I wish I could convince my wife to drive the Class A. She drove a Class C but the minute we turned off the freeway she would surrender the chair to me.

PS: If you have not been in your motor home while it is moving and someone else is driving, find a way to do it so you can walk around and observe how she behaves while on the road. It is a good experience.

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