Turning an RV’s steering wheel creates a couple of situations that require special attention. 3DR Solo aerial footage makes it clearer than ever what happens when you go around a corner with an RV!
We always make a point of mentioning that we’re not professionals when it comes to RV repair and maintenance. We get lots of kind comments about the clarity of our instructional videos, and people sometimes assume at least one of us has a teaching background. That is indeed the case.
For the first time, we can remove the “we’re not professionals” disclaimer, because one of us Geeks is indeed a former professional… in the driving realm.
Peter’s resume as a motorcoach operator and driving instructor is substantial. Not only did he drive tour buses in a big city, but he was also the Safety & Training Manager for one of the largest bus companies in North America. He designed and ran the training program, hiring and training hundreds of professional drivers, and dozens of driving instructors, over the years.
In addition, his driving prowess in the American Public Transit Association’s annual Bus Roadeo driving competition earned him a shelf full of trophies.
We intend for this to be the first of many RVgeeks Driving School videos, designed to share the concepts required to master the operation of a large vehicle, and increase safety on the road. We get so many questions about driving, that we thought it was about time we shared something from a bona fide expert’s point of view.
AWESOME video, the drone shots really showed the driving mechanics that are involved. My question is if there is a trick to it at what moment you start the turn? I know I have to look to the right and look in the mirrors, can I use a marking on the RV tho when to start the turn? Logic says that a left turn has the same issue but is easier as the weel-cut is probably less for a left turn. The cones showed the overhang in a great way. Keep on doing this I learned a lot from you guys. (I’m a RV newbie and have no RV yet!)
There are a lot of instructors that teach things like “If your RV is XX feet long, bring your front bumper even with the curb before turning… or if your wheel cut is XX degrees, bring your driver’s seat even with the curb before turning.” Etc, Etc. When I was in the bus business, I was able to teach with this kind of absolute, because every bus was identical (back then they were all 40′ MCIs). The reason RVs can’t be taught that way effectively is because there is so much variety… so many different combinations of length, wheelbase, wheel cut, etc. Here’s what I recommend. Go to a remote section of a big deserted parking lot with either a few traffic cones, or just use the dividers or lines in the parking lot as guides. Drive straight up one lane, and stay about 8 feet away from the curb. Bring the nose of your RV about even with the corner and begin to turn the wheel steadily as you continue to slowly roll forward. As you approach the apex of the turn, be sure you’re moving slowly enough that you can stop if you’re going to contact the curb (which you will know by monitoring your right convex mirror and watching the gap between your RV and the curb shrink). Come to a complete stop at the point that your RV is closest to the curb (the moment the gap between the RV and the curb stops shrinking and begins to grow… or when you can no longer see enough space between the RV and the curb to be sure you’re not about to hit it… which is a good reason to use cones or the lines on the pavement). Set the brake, shut down the engine and get out and walk back along the right side. How close did you come to the curb? 3 or 4 feet may be too far away (might force a car to have to back up for you unnecessarily), and of course hitting the curb, or on track to hit the curb, is too close). Now get back behind the wheel and do it all over again, positioning yourself a little closer or further away, or pulling further or less far forward as needed. This exercise will do two things. First, it will be good practice for positioning your particular RV for a turn. Second, it’s great mirror practice, helping you learn what the view in the convex mirror actually equates to down at the tires. Hope this is clear and helps a bit! Muscle memory rules! Once you position yourself correctly several times, notice the distance from the curb and how far forward you pulled and shoot for that in the future. Of course the distance you’re able to stay to the left before turning will sometimes be less, forcing you to pull further out, thereby throwing a monkey wrench into the works! LOL One thing to avoid, in certain cases (when there’s anything on your left side), is locking the wheel all the way over to the right, against the steering stop unless it’s necessary for a tight turn. The reason for this is that this will cause maximum rear overhang swing, which could strike any cars in the left lane alongside you. Rear overhang can be insidious, because unlike off-tracking, where you can keep a good eye on your mirror and confirm that you’re going to clear an obstacle, it’s hard to tell how close your rear overhang is actually coming to things. You need to leave a larger “insurance” gap back there because it’s hard to see precisely where it is. Have fun practicing, and good luck!