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Old 04-24-2016, 07:01 AM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2016
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Talking Need advice with white knuckle city driving

I recently returned to Austin, TX from a 6,000 mile trip in my Fleetwood Bounder, pulling a tow car, to Springfield, OR. I persevered dust storms, winds strong enough to blow my passenger side mirror loose, and a snow storm that aborted my attempt to cross from Sacramento to Reno.

However, the scariest sections of my trip were El Paso and Phoenix, where I encountered surprise s-curves at 50+ mph in heavy traffic and concrete barriers along the side of narrow lanes.

Compared to a car, the steering feels like there is a certain amount of uncontrollable give that requires constant minor course corrections. Driving in a lane abutted by a waste high concrete barrier and a narrow margin for error was a high adrenaline experience.

Also, as I would enter an s-curve I was leaning in my seat into the curve and feeling barely in control of staying in my lane. It seemed that the coach was leaning away from the curve.

I have had drivers refuse to let me change lanes in front of them and have learned to plan lane changes as far before an exit as possible but you can't always control that.

I drove through the LA area at 3am to avoid all of these problems but the resulting trip delays when cities are close together can make this practice cumbersome.

I am about to be a full timer, travelling the western US and Canada and would like to know if a driver training course will be useful after 7,000+ miles on the road, and, if so, course recommendations. I would also appreciate any advice about how to avoid those white knuckle moments when you feel within a hair's breath of flipping the coach or causing a ten car pile-up.

Thanks for your advice.

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Old 04-24-2016, 07:20 AM   #2
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Driving the beast

It will get easier. First thing is to drive defensively. Expect anyone to cut you off so leave lots of room between you and the guy out front as these do not stop like a car. While I drive on highways I seldom need to use the brakes as I focus way further down the road and anticipate what is ahead.
Biggest thing to get used to is don't micro correct steering input. Focus your vision further rather than close to you. It will make driving so much easier. I'll never forget the drive home with our new coach. White knuckled drive for the 3 hr trip home. Once I started focusing further it went so much easier and now totally at ease. PS I keep the speed at 60 mph and the odd time 65 but no faster.
Happy trails

2013 Tiffin Allegro 36LA OPEN ROAD
2012 Honda CRV AWD toad
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Old 04-24-2016, 07:48 AM   #3
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Without knowing much about your rig, it sounds like some tuning may be needed. The steering box commonly needs snugged down some due to wear (Steering Play Adjustment - JdFinley.com). People also add various components but I found new sway bar bushing made a huge different on my last (old) rig.

Next, slowing down might help. I never drive over the posted speed limit (usually less) and always take corners at no more than the "corner warning sign" advised speed. If none of that helps, take an exit and sit in a parking lot until traffic has died down. I find stressful driving situations to be the perfect time to stop for a nap, eat a sandwich, or watch a tv show. Sometimes a good spot is hard to find but there is usually at least a wide spot in the road somewhere.
JD - Full timer out west
Missy - 1998 MCI 102-EL3 - 1.7kW Solar - 10kWh Lithium
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Old 04-24-2016, 07:55 AM   #4
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If your coach is leaning to the point that you're feeling uncomfortable and not fully in control then you're going too fast. Nothing says that you need to keep up with the pace of traffic in heavy city congestion, just slow down and fell comfortable.
2012 Journey 40U (Our Incredible Journey)
2008 Dodge Dakota(TOAD) 2005 Honda Shadow in TOAD
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Old 04-24-2016, 08:27 AM   #5
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If you are on a ford chassis check out the CHF (cheap handling fix) and a rear track bar. Both may be candidate to provide much improved handling. But first ensure tire pressures, weights, etc are correct. And nothing worn or damaged in suspension and steering systems.
Vince and Susan
2011 Tiffin Phaeton 40QTH (Cummins ISC/Freightliner)
Flat towing a modified 2005 Jeep (Rubicon Wrangler)
Previously a 2002 Fleetwood Pace Arrow 37A and a 1995 Safari Trek 2830.
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Old 04-24-2016, 08:34 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by D Lindy View Post
If your coach is leaning to the point that you're feeling uncomfortable and not fully in control then you're going too fast. Nothing says that you need to keep up with the pace of traffic in heavy city congestion, just slow down and fell comfortable.
+1,000,000 to this advice!!!! Take your time, pick your lane and keep it where you feel comfortable!
2012 HR Endeavor 43' DFT, 2012 Jeep Liberty
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Old 04-24-2016, 08:45 AM   #7
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I've found that by far the easiest way to avoid big-city white-knuckle chaos is to avoid big cities. Seriously. Go around them.
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Old 04-24-2016, 08:47 AM   #8
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add summo-springs and safety steer, will help a lot with control and body leaning and rocking. Both these items helped dramatically with the white knuckle driving on my terra/22000lb chassis. OH and I make great efforts to stay away from cities, although inconsiderate drivers are EVERYWHERE!!!!!

Rapid Rick
2013 Fleetwood Terra 35K
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Old 04-24-2016, 11:38 AM   #9
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I, too, try to avoid cities. If you came from LA on I-10 you can avoid Phoenix by using 85 to get to I-8. It's a more relaxing drive.
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Old 04-24-2016, 11:56 AM   #10
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Sounds like you've gotten some good advice here. Especially the part about don't let traffic determine how fast you go during turns. If you feel like you're leaning too far you probably are going too fast. When you take exits you'll usually see a max speed of 35 or 45 MPH and a sign showing a truck tipping over. That sign is for you. It should give you an idea how fast you can take curves.

I know exactly how you feel. We went to Topsail State Park in Florida last summer. It was supposed to be a 6.5 hour drive from our house in Orlando. But a shooting incident on the I75 caused us a 7 hour delay and I had to get in to the park after dark. The highway leading to Topsail was all under construction with narrow lanes, angry drivers and occasional rain. This was my first long trip and I was tired and white knuckling the drive like you were. I was also towing a car. I found the best thing was to look in my rear view mirrors and see exactly where my rear wheels were with respect to the lane lines. I think picked a spot on the front windshield looking towards the passenger's side lane line on the road. I made a mental X on that spot and just kept the coach right there. If I'd had a grease pencil with me I'd have had my wife put an actual mark there.

It does get easier. I'm in my second, larger coach now and I actually enjoy driving it. Get used to your mirrors. Use your rear view monitor to help judge things behind you. I'm not suggesting you get overly aggressive, but if you have to merge, especially when a lane ends or something, drivers in the other lanes are required to let you merge in. You are bigger, much bigger. Use your directional and start squeezing in. You'll break the line.

These are big vehicles and there's lots to know. Experience is great, but if you have a chance to attend an RV driving course I'd say go for it. My schedule has prevented me from making the ones that are close to me (and when I say close, I mean like in Tampa from Orlando). But I've gotten very comfortable in my coach. The danger then is getting complacent and driving like you are in your car. And that's dangerous.
2015 Fleetwood Discovery 40G
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Old 04-24-2016, 12:33 PM   #11
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I believe it will get less stressful as you gain experience. The trick is to never let the traffic push you beyond your personal comfort level. I don't care how many people tell me I'm #1 as they pass. They would be even more upset if they were the ones I piled into because I was trying to keep up.
You'll soon learn your rig and what the capabilities and shortfalls are. Stay well within those boundaries and you'll be just fine. After all, you say you just returned to Austin so you must live there. My travels through that city have been white knuckled even in a four wheeler!
BTW: El Paso was in terrible shape when we passed through there in February. The construction is confusing to all.
A couple of tips:
**Use Google Satelite to review the course if you have the time before driving for the day. Make some notes about the best through lanes to be in and stay in them regardless of the speed of others. Construction zones won't show but it's normally a pretty good tool.
**Follow in the same lanes as the big rigs. They normally are a little more familiar with the best lanes and some are still using the CB to get current traffic info from other drivers.
Best of luck.
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Old 04-24-2016, 01:19 PM   #12
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I'd suggest talking to either your local school district or transit agency to see if one of their bus drivers would be willing to give you some lessons. After all, if an older lady (as most of our school bus drivers seem to be) can handle a 40-footer, full of 70 or more boisterous children through residential areas and on the freeway, it just takes a bit of advice from one of them to make things more pleasant.

I was very fortunate when, after a 30-year career at Boeing, I retired at 57 and got a job for a couple of years as a transit driver. The training to actually drive the bus took less than a day. The next 3 weeks were spent learning the routes with the instructor, then I was launched. Driving a 40-footer through downtown Everett's evening rush hour was a bit hairy the first time, but it wasn't long before I got comfortable with it.

We bought a 32' Class A shortly after I started the driving job and I found it to be relatively easy to drive. The only difference was the position of the steer wheels relative to the driver's location.
Frank Damp -Anacortes, WA,(DW- Eileen)
ex-pat Brits (1968) and ex-RVers.
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Old 04-24-2016, 01:37 PM   #13
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In the past nere 20 years I have driven about 150,000 miles in a motor home towing a toad. Have driven in many large cities when I thought i didn't have a choice. Pheonix is bad and like other places when doing construction on some lanes it seems they temporarily decrease the width to the minimum making it harder.again in pheonix watch the semester trucks/tractor trailers. They have a tough time staying in the lsne. In fact one ran into mine and fortunately no one was beside me or I would have been in an accident.SanAntonio and Houston are terrible. Dallas is not much better. MY POINT In the future I will go just about anywhere I have to avoid city traffic in large cities.
Howard & Connie. USAF Retired
2007 Newmar KSDP tow Jeep 4dr wrangler
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Old 04-24-2016, 06:33 PM   #14
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Big Boy

Let's not be timid about our size in traffic. We are hard to miss. Command your space like a good looking woman walking into a room. Go the speed you are comfortable with and let them go round! Smile and wave even if they give you the Hawaiian salute.

2008 Fleetwood Southwind
W22 Workhorse Chassis 8.1L Chev Vortec
Allison 1000 transmission
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