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Old 08-16-2020, 04:08 PM   #43
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Driving large vehicles

I would agree with most of you that time behind the wheel of a big vehicle is a good way to learn and get comfortable, but as a professional driver I have always felt that everyone who drives a large vehicle should take a safe driving course for large vehicles. These courses include safety issues when operating large vehicles in all kinds of conditions, including mountain, snow and ice, heavy traffic and other conditions. They also teach how air brakes work, how to turn, how to keep track of vehicles around you, looking way down the road to anticipate developing situations, always leaving an exit and many others. Large vehicles should not be driven like a car due to their mass that requires knowledge of stopping distances and going around curves in the road. You have many additional considerations if you are pulling a car, boat or other item behind the rig. There are also many laws to know when traveling through various states such as maximum length requirements, braking systems and others. The other types of things covered in these courses are items such as always back out of traffic not into traffic. I have been driving large vehicles, from semi-tractor trailers (including doubles), to commercial buses and various motor homes with weights from a few hundred to over 150,000 lbs. So, I would recommend everyone take a good safe driving course for large vehicles.
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Old 08-16-2020, 04:10 PM   #44
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Rent one before u buy to make shure its for you.
Never buy motorhomes or boats new.
If you buy new you loose 40% one you drive it off the lot.
Find a good quality one a few years old with low miles, there’s a lot of them out there.
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Old 08-16-2020, 04:28 PM   #45
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Driving an RV

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Originally Posted by kcoyne View Post
We are new to RVing and considering our first coach, a Class A Diesel. Having never driven an RV what suggestions do you have for learning how to drive a Class A properly? Is it worth hiring an instructor or should we just watch a few YouTube videos for tips and then get behind the wheel to learn in vacant parking lots and open roads?
in flying it is called "situational awarnes", know what is going on 360 degrees around you, don't fixate on what is going directly in front of you. At any given moment you should know what is going on, not trying to figure it out after it happens ( where did that car come from?).

Secondly as in flying, "cockpi resource management ", use what you got. Ask you "copolit", especially with navigation. Trust GPS and mapping programs about 80% of the time. To many dead ends.

Driving an RV is easy, if you know how. It is not like driving a car, but neither do you need the skills of a space shuttle Command Pilot. Good, emphasis on good instruction is always a plus.
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Old 08-16-2020, 05:26 PM   #46
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You could watch YouTube but it really isn't the same. Having someone to teach you and your partner would probably make both of you happier in the long run. My opinion only. I learned to drive by driving a school bus for a long time... lol but my husband still is not comfortable driving.
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Old 08-16-2020, 05:45 PM   #47
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It is well worth taking a driving class. I started out with 45 ft Cornerstone and was very happy that I went thru training. I highly recommend Michael Lynch. He works as an independent driver instructor and you can get his contact info thru National Indoor RV Center in Lawrenceville, Ga.
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Old 08-16-2020, 05:51 PM   #48
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Forget about the trouble of driving a coach, it will come naturally after about 100 miles. Just practice backing the coach, have a second person watch the back and sides as to go in.... remember to look up for low tree branches !!!

One word of caution and that is where you are planning to travel. If you head to Florida be prepared to have a problem of vacant sites at all state park campgrounds and we are not in Snowbirds season yet. My wife and I are on the road right now in Florida and the service for Florida Parks has a new symbol that means site is not available and the problem appears for all sites near the end of the month and the beginning. It could be a problem with the vendor for the state or it could be that they haven't recovered from the original virus shut down. Just do your home work before you hit the road.
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Old 08-16-2020, 06:24 PM   #49
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There is a lot of good advice here about the actual steering and clearance part of driving a Class A diesel but you should understand how air brakes work as well. Stopping is as at least as important as turning. Knowing the fundamentals of air brakes will help you understand what you are looking at on those gauges and knowing if all is well before you ever put it in gear. I echo the sentiments that suggest you get some fundamental training from a qualified instructor. And when you have that, then practise, practise, practise.
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Old 08-16-2020, 06:38 PM   #50
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I would strongly recommend instructions. My wife and I used RV Driving School. We both took the 2 day lesson together. It's too easy to think as a male, "I've been driving for xx years, I can figure it out" They taught us many fine points that I don't think I would had picked up. Also they taught us how to communicate to each other when we are backing up and parking. It is really good money spent.
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Old 08-16-2020, 07:16 PM   #51
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I first had a tent trailer, then a Class C with a tow dolly, then a 35' fifth wheel with a diesel dully 4 door, and finally the Palazzo with a car four down. With a fifth wheel or Class A you leave half a car's width at a corner. When turning start when you the driver are at the end point of the corner and do not turn sharp. That seems to be the nice zone of turning wide. Works every time. You have to watch for cars trying to sneak down on the right side. Happened to me twice in eight years. You also need to go out further on a left turn also. Make sure you the driver are to the left of center on a lane. Backing up, use your mirrors and backup camera. Do a walk around before backing in. If you are not sure, get out and walk around again.
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Old 08-16-2020, 07:46 PM   #52
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Originally Posted by sirpurrcival View Post
There is a lot of good advice here about the actual steering and clearance part of driving a Class A diesel but you should understand how air brakes work as well. Stopping is as at least as important as turning. Knowing the fundamentals of air brakes will help you understand what you are looking at on those gauges and knowing if all is well before you ever put it in gear. I echo the sentiments that suggest you get some fundamental training from a qualified instructor. And when you have that, then practise, practise, practise.
There is valuable information posted on this topic but, of the 50 or so posts, only three adress learning about the systems/operations unique to DP's, air brakes being one of them. We've owned gasoline class A rigs since 1988. Got our first DP a couple of years ago. Probably as with most of you, the sales staff was not very forthcoming with DP insights. If you don't know what questions to ask they're gonna toss you the keys and tell you to go have fun. They probably don't know the answer to your question anyway!

So, I feel it is essential to not only get good driving instruction, but also training on your rigs mechanical systems. And, if you are going to tow, please ensure that there is a braking system in whatever you tow that activates automatically when you apply the coach brakes. These systems can make the difference between collision or not. During 32 years of towing I've probably only really need this added stopping ability a handful if times but it only takes once to potentially ruin your life.
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Old 08-16-2020, 08:00 PM   #53
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A LOT of Motorhome Owner/Drivers...

...were professional truck drivers and/or farmers with experience driving heavy equipment. I'd be very surprised if most of the non-pros who "picked it up" in just a few hours didn't have (unmentioned) accidents after they became (too) "comfortable"... An hour or three of instruction would be money well spent))
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Old 08-16-2020, 08:06 PM   #54
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My wife took the classes by RV Driving and has become an accomplished driver. Important things to learn is use of mirrors and where drive axle is during a turn. The lesson included lane changes with and without a toad. She feels comfortable piloting our 60k# unit down the road at 75 mph. Well worth the money because she said I always yelled at her when she was learning. The second day included backing without killing any cones.
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Old 08-16-2020, 09:09 PM   #55
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I agree with what Gary said. Some people adapt quickly and can catch on with a few YouTube videos and practice drives. Other people do not adapt that quickly and may need a more professional approach.

I actually went to a large deserted factory parking lot and practiced myself. I backed in spots and tried to simulate various camp site parking angles until I had it down.

It did not take me too long before I was very comfortable driving and parking. I did initially watch various YouTube videos regarding lane centering and various markings to make it easier for me in my particular RV.

Good luck with your approach and safe travels
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Old 08-16-2020, 10:06 PM   #56
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New RV drivers

There are two GREAT driver training programs nationwide!
AARP Safe Driving Class: usually taught in local Senior Centers. You will be amazed at how much has changed in your vehicle, the roads, and your BODY since you got your license 40 or 50 years ago. They are not RV specific but the things you will learn apply to all us “senior citizens”.
ESCAPEES RV Club runs a great program as they hold rallies around the country. They are also a great inexpensive club to join for the knowledge you can find in their magazine.
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