How to drive your motorhome for the first time
Author: Cathy Anderson Date Posted: 1 November 2018
Driving a motorhome is a wonderful feeling. There’s a sense of adventure and the freedom to go wherever you like, and the ability to leave your worries in the driveway behind you.
But, whether you’ve rented a motorhome for a long weekend, or you’ve made the leap and bought your very own RV, you need to know how to command your vehicle safely on Australia’s long roads and winding tracks.
Here are some basic and essential safety tips for happy motorhome driving. While they might seem obvious, we don’t always consider these things foremost in mind and they are vital to ensuring you get safely to your destination.
On the road
Australia’s road conditions vary. The cities have tight turning lanes and fast freeways to reach outer suburbs and beyond, and you might not always catch speedy car drivers darting in and around you. There are also trams and trains to contend with. When you finally get out of the Big Smoke, driving in rural areas the roads can be bumpy and prone to wildlife crossings. There will usually be road signs if there are known spots for wildlife crossings for koalas, wombats, kangaroos and cattle. Make sure you are mindful of road signs and adhere to them. Driving a larger vehicle has a different response than avoiding road kill in a car.
Keep a safe distance
A rule of thumb is three lengths of your own vehicle to allow enough time to brake in an emergency and avoid a collision. This is especially true when driving a motorhome – the larger and heavier your vehicle, the longer it will take to stop. Not all drivers were created equal - remember others are not always as cautious and can brake without warning.
Let your fellow road users know exactly what you are doing well ahead of time. It will give them plenty of opportunity to respond and hop out of your way. It will also reduce your stress levels as well by knowing that no one is going to run up into the back of your vehicle and into your bedroom!
As mentioned before, a motorhome is much larger than a car and you need to make sure you take a wider turn to avoid hitting the curb. Take the approach to the corners much slower than you would in a car. Motorhomes behave differently because they are heavier but also taller. Remember, you’re on holiday, so there’s no rush to get anywhere.
Note the height and weight
Motorhomes take up a lot of real estate on the road so stay within the lines and be mindful of your height in regards to bridges. Most bridges will have a clearance height and you should know exactly how tall your vehicle is. No one wants to be that person on the nightly news with their motorhome wedged under a bridge that was just a smidge too low to get under.
Take regular rest breaks
This tip is super important. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep before any long drive, and only stay behind the wheel for around two hours at a time, if you can. Even if you plan a longer trip and don’t want to stop overnight after that short time, at least take a break for a roadside cuppa to stimulate the brain, stretch your legs with a brisk walk. As the old Australian road safety ad says: stop, revive, survive.
With just a few safe driving tips you’ll be commanding your rig like a pro in no time. Of course there are specialist driving courses you can do to boost your confidence too.