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Old 06-26-2016, 08:53 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by PBG View Post
I honestly don't think I'm the only one facing this dilemma and quite possibly there's more than just a few of us who have wanted to take this leap for a long time and finally have the time and resources to do it right and want to do so in a responsible manner.
I think it's safe to say that anybody and everybody who has purchased a large RV has been in the same spot you are today - so you're certainly not alone. I liken it to when I learned to skydive. I got some basic instruction (analogous to the driving instructions I got during the one "test ride" I took with my sales guy). I studied all the books I could lay hands on. I walked thru all the simulation stuff I could. BUT (and it's a HUGE BUT) - I still had to decide for myself that I was ready to take the leap - and step up to the door. As somebody who has made that leap - I can tell you that all the "training" in the world will replace that first leap. You certainly do everything you can - to put yourself in the right frame of mind and prepare yourself with everything available to you. BUT, in the end - you still have to make the leap. Driving a motor home isn't much different.

As you've said - you've got experience driving all sorts of vehicles in all sorts of conditions. You already KNOW how to drive ... the rules of the road, etc. - you've proven than.

A motor home means you've got a few driving laws that haven't applied to you before ... but that's all "book work". You can read it yourself - or maybe find an instructor to read it to you.

A motor coach will provide you with some controls that will be new to you ... but again, that's just book work. An couple of hours of reading the Owners Manual while sitting in the driver seat will get you up to speed on what those are.

The only SIGNIFICANT new skill you're facing is actually controlling a vehicle with size/weight and handling characteristics of a large coach. And like skydiving - NOTHING you do short of actually getting behind the wheel is going to truly get you up to speed on what a large coach feels like. You'll certainly want to stack the deck in your favor - typically by getting your first few minutes of "wheel time" in a large parking lot or on some very empty road somewhere ... so you have lots of room and time to get the feel. Nothing can prepare you for your first stop with air brakes ... other than your first stop with air brakes. Same concept applies for your first 90 degree left turn and your first 90 degree right turn. However, once you've survived your first - your second thru your last is nothing more experience gained.

Some folks are just more comfortable taking a class - I get it. BUT, as you've already discovered - there's not much RV specific training available out there. That's because, aside from forum discussion boards - there's not much demand. If there were - there would be a training school brand office across the street from every RV dealership in the country.

I get that you feel there needs to be RV specific training - and can respect your opinion. However, let me point out to you that folks have been bringing themselves up to speed on driving their RVs since the first RVs came out in the 1930s. You can look at IRV forums - and see that of the 100's of active posters ... only a handful felt compelled to respond to this thread. The point I'm making is that the vast majority of folks who've made this leap before you - and have realized that it's not a big deal. If it was - trust me, this forum would be lousy with advertisements for RV driving schools.

I get that you're talking about a big investment .. I get that there's risk ... I get that driving a large RV is different. Been there done that - got the T-shirt. But, just like a first skydive ... sooner or later - you've got to step in the door and take the leap.

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Old 06-26-2016, 09:21 AM   #30
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If you took a survey of the RV owners here on iRV2.com I would dare say that most of them have had an "accident" with their RV.

It's not IF, it is more like when. You will eventually blemish that RV by doing something stupid.

My first motorhome was a 36 foot 1992 Airstream Landyacht. Took off a driver's side mirror plus fender/door damage to a pickup truck parked in a fuel station when turning into the island of pumps. Didn't account for rear end swing. Told the employee and paid for the repair.

Then after getting my current 40 foot Monaco, I had my "stupid" in an RV Park and that was after I got out and surveyed the situation with my spotter and put together a perfect plan as to how to back into the site without hitting an embankment and other obstacles.

Well, I got behind the wheel and did exactly what I wasn't supposed to do. Got the damaged fixed for about $5000 and learned my lesson.

Haven't come close to doing another "stupid" ever since and it has been 12 years now.

Dr4Film ----- Richard

2002 Monaco Windsor PBT 40Ft. (R HOME) - 30Ft. 2006 Pace Trailer (R JUNK). Trailer Has 06 VUE (R TOWD) 04 Victory Alen Ness Edition (R RYDE). Full-Timer for 14 Yr's BUT now a Part-Timer. Cummins ISC-350 With Banks Power Pack and Upgraded PRXB PacBrake.
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Old 06-26-2016, 09:58 AM   #31
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You've made a case for an RV driving school. And such doesn't exist. There's your opportunity. Start your own RV driving school, replete with several motorhomes for people like yourself who want to learn to drive a motorhome without the big commitment.
I wish you luck in your endeavors.
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Old 06-26-2016, 11:25 AM   #32
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You've made this way too hard. Learn to see just the killer items, you are letting the details obscure the important things.

Study the before driving air brake checks. Remember you have 8 corners and you can't see them all. You have tail swing and your rear wheels are 30' behind you. Walk around your MH twice, looking at head height and below make sure doors are closed and nothing is connected to MH. Walk around the second time 30' away look head height and above. Plan your pull out with vertical clearance.

Here is the bottom line. Don't take your MH someplace your head hasn't already been.

PS. It works on Motorcycles , too.
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Old 06-26-2016, 05:08 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Dr4Film View Post
Lazy Days at Seffner Florida offers a great RV driving class and it's free to people who are staying at the campground.

Dr4Film ----- Richard
The LazyDays driving class is absolutely fantastic! And, it is also available at the location in Tucson, AZ. That is where I attended. I didn't buy my motorhome there, so I paid for the class. I think it was about $100, but it was worth every penny.

The class consists of classroom work the first half of the day, and actual driving of a motorhome during the last half. You drive their motorhome, not yours, so even if you haven't purchased a coach yet, you can still get the on-the-road experience.

We live in the Atlanta area, and found our coach at a dealership in Mesa, AZ. We flew out there, bought it, and got a brief driving lesson from the dealership. We drove from Mesa to Tucson, about a 2 hour trip, and parked at the KOA next to LazyDays. The next day, my wife and I both attended the course. We were as new to driving large vehicles as you can get. I'm lucky that I only ran over one curb on the way to our Tucson campsite, and that was when I pulled into the KOA park.

The course we took that next day at LazyDays was invaluable! We learned so much that it would have taken years of experience to gain the same knowledge. Our instructor was a guy named John Gold. He is VERY good at teaching people how to operate a large vehicle. He makes the learning experience interesting, and never boring.

We were back in Tucson again this year, having liked the area and wanted to spend the winter there. While there, I had an accident on my bicycle, and broke my leg. It delayed our departure, as I was unable to drive for an extended period. My wife decided she might need a refresher driving course just in case she should have to drive the coach, so she attended the LazyDays course again. It was just as interesting as the first time around, and she loved it.

Now, one of the best things we learned during that course was how to back the coach into a spot. We have backed our motorhome into some pretty tight spots with perfect placement and minimal maneuvering with the skills we learned during the LazyDays course. My wife does the backing, and I direct her. We don't use walkie talkies or phones to communicate, only a few hand signals. I've had people come over and congratulate me on our precision in getting a big rig in small space. We wouldn't be able to do it without what we learned in that course.
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Old 06-27-2016, 06:16 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by PBG View Post
So, here's my question:

Can anyone provide links to legitimate training schools that teach a newbie how to drive a motorhome or even a school bus? ........

I guess I'm a little surprised that you can't find someone that trains school bus drivers. I suppose they are trained as part of a job placement?

Maybe your best bet is to seek out an experienced RV/CDL driver in your area. Most of us our proud of our MH's and love showing them off. If you meet the right person they might even train you in their MH. If not, they can at least show you the things they think are important.

Good luck pard!
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Old 06-27-2016, 06:36 AM   #35
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PBG: you mentioned driving schools that send a professional driver to help you learn for a day or two. That sounds like your ticket. Arrange for the teacher to be at the lot when you pick up your shiny new RV and start the training right there.
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Old 06-27-2016, 07:26 AM   #36
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While it is only twice a year, FMCA offers a driving school at their Family Reunions. I understand this is not weekly, or even monthly but it is available and is mostly behind the wheel time in YOUR motor coach. This is particularly good if you or your DW do not feel comfortable driving that big bus you just purchased. It is not going to get you ready to drive through New York City pulling that 20' toad, but it will help you get more comfortable with your coach. If you want you could rent a RV, attend the school and find out if you are going to like this thing we call RVing before you drop several hundred thousand dollars on a coach. RVing is like so many other things, folks think it is sexy, drop lots of money on that idea, then in 6 to 12 months sell off what they are not using. If you think I am wrong check other recreational industries, skiing or scuba diving for example. Folks buy all sorts of equipment, some take classes then make a couple of trips and that is it. There is a lot of slightly used equipment for sale as well as sitting in someone garage. My point is, try this sport/life style before you jump in with both feet.

As for the unique systems on your motor coach, that should be part of the PDI, a good dealership will have one of their mechanics do it, not just the salesman. When I purchased my latest coach I video taped the PDI, that way I could go back and review those things I had forgotten.

On another note, most of us did not jump into a 40' high end class A, we graduate up the scale, some from class C's, some from class B's some from travel trailers, gaining skills as we go. I for one don't want to be any where around someone jumping into a 40' coach feet first for the first time. Get some experience driving something a bit smaller first. Maybe as suggested a box truck, a 28' class c, just don't move to a 40' coach, you will not enjoy it, and those you share the road with will not either. It is not like moving from a Mazda Miata to a Cadillac, White knuckle driving is fine in the Miata, but has no place in a 40,000 pound motor coach.

That's just my humble opinion, I am sure there are others that will disagree, but that is why we live in this great country, freedom! Remember those that gave their all so we can have different opinions and get out and see some of it.
Dave, Bobbi and Fenway
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Old 06-27-2016, 09:33 AM   #37
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While I was with Immigration/Border Patrol I taught Agents and Enforcement Officers to drive OTR buses at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in New Mexico. From the data I saw I would agree that most accidents are low speed and more often than not involved backing....Usually without a guide.

In my experience most anyone can drive a large bus/RV and with some basic driving and backing can survive in most circumstances. I trained a young lady from NYC whom did not even have a drivers license until about two weeks prior to coming to the academy. After a couple days of training and working through some confidence issues, she passed the driving part of the course and did very well.

Driving a coach is about staying on the mirrors and knowing where your rear axle is in relation to the turn or angle of the turn and understanding how the rear of the coach that is behind the axle behaves. Also knowing where and front axle is in relation to you....and how and where its going to go. It sounds daunting at first but with time it gets easier.

I know I'm preaching to the choir here but Short of a catastrophic failure of a steering tire, driving down the highway is pretty much the the same as driving a car other than the size of the vehicle. Again watching your mirrors is paramount as well as maintaining a large space between you and that guy driving the yugo in front of you, even when someone pulls in between you and that guy get distance between you and the new guy. At a minimum four or five car lengths or more and just expect more people to fill the empty space.

Understand the majority of them "think" you can stop just as fast as they can ....so you need plan accordingly

If it ain't one thing, Its something more Expensive
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Old 06-27-2016, 10:49 AM   #38
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You could always just pay the $$$ for one of the dozens of Bus driving instruction schools that are available in almost any state.
The only way the RVIA WILL START SCHOOLS similar to the motorcycle ones is when states adopt laws that require special driver license for RV. Most states don't require it.
Be prepared to pay around $2500 to $5000 for a really effective CDL type training course, and the time to do it. If you don't want trial by fire, this is what you have to do.
I bought a used 40ft DP in Arizona and drove it back to Ohio. I had never drove one before or anything like it. I can back it in almost anywhere and drive through city streets. My wife, with the same driving experience as me only wants to drive in a straight line on the highway and will not back it up.
This weekend we had some folks over for dinner. They have owned this fifth wheel for 3-4 years, go out several times a year, and are still having difficulties. They always request a pull-through, and they have a concrete pad at home that is just very difficult for them to back into. He complained about the lack of training available just like some on here, but at the suggestion of truck driving courses, his reaction was like many here. "I can't afford $3-4000 for a course like that. Well, looking at a fairly new fifth wheel and a good size diesel pick up, I'm guessing he has $100,000 invested. Priorities?
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Old 06-27-2016, 11:29 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by Davdeb1 View Post
You could always just pay the $$$ for one of the dozens of Bus driving instruction schools that are available in almost any state.
That was my thought as well, but unless I'm entering incorrect search terms, I haven't been able to find any bus driving schools in the South Florida area. If anyone has links, I'll be happy to check them out and post the info.

So far, all that I've found are schools to learn to drive a tractor trailer and the ones I've found have some poor reviews posted.

Input welcomed!
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Old 06-27-2016, 05:49 PM   #40
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As a follow up with more details on the FMCA drivers Ed program. The program is 6 hours (two 3 hour sessions) sponsored by the Recreational Vehicle Safety & Education Foundation (RVSEF), the major objectives of the RV Driving Safety Program are:

Increase Driver Awareness
Identify Drivers' Abilities
Understand and Identify your Vehicle(s)
Determine Conditions That Affect Driving
Make Participants Safer Drivers

The cost is $20 per person to register call 800 543-3622 or on site at the FMCA Family Reunion starting August 3, 7:00 AM in the Information Center in the Young Building. Space is limited to the first 300 paid registrants.

There will also be a RV weight & tire safety program. Areas covered:

Weight related definitions
Weight disclosure labels
Towing components
Tire markings
Tire load/inflation tables

This RVSEF program uses certified scales to determine individual wheel position loads. Owners complete a comprehensive worksheet that includes all critical weight and tire ratings. The cost of weighing is $60, there is no charge for the RV weight & tire safety education presented by RVSEF. You can sign up at the Young Building on Wednesday August 3rd from 7:00 to noon.
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Old 06-27-2016, 06:13 PM   #41
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Originally Posted by DrDaveMA View Post
As a follow up with more details on the FMCA drivers Ed program.
Thank You.

Please correct me if I'm wrong. But don't you need to own a motorhome to become a member of the FMCA?
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Old 06-27-2016, 06:23 PM   #42
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I do not believe so, but check the FMCA membership rules.

Dave, Bobbi and Fenway
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