Ten Golden Rules For First-Time RV Drivers

RV Drivers

You’ve just gotten yourself a state-of-the-art RV and are prepared to go on your road trip as RV Drivers. However, you aren’t entirely sure what happens next. How do you begin preparing for the trip, and worse still, how do you operate an RV for the first time? If that is something that has been bothering you, we’re here to help alleviate your worries. It might appear to be daunting in the beginning, but it’s like learning how to drive a car –– you’ll get used to it!

RVs don’t operate like cars. They brake slower, accelerate slower, and you have way larger blind spots than you would have in a car. With enough practice and time, you’ll gradually enjoy driving the motorhome as much as your vacation itself. Don’t rush into things; the bigger your RV, the larger the accident. Whether you’re renting an RV, or like me, begun renting out my rv, here are some basic driving tips you’ll need to know

A Driver’s Basics

Height And Width

Before we get into the ten golden rules of driving an RV, let’s go through some basics. First, you would want to measure your RV’s height, as low bridges can significantly damage an RV that is too large to pass. We recommend not taking the height written in the owner’s manual, as you need to take into consideration the length of the air conditioning units and RV Wi-Fi antennas. 

Next, you’ll need to know your RV’s width. Though it isn’t as crucial as knowing the height, there are certain states where they limit larger RVs over 102 inches to only driving on the highway. 


Secondly, ensure that the mirrors are properly adjusted so you’re able to maximize the amount of space on both sides. Pay special attention to the side mirrors, as the blind spots in an RV are much larger than in a car. When you’re driving, you’ll need to regularly check the mirrors to ensure that you have the blind spots covered. 

Ten Golden Rules

Make Way For Your RV 

As a driver, you already know how parking for the first time goes –– you’re not entirely sure what you’re doing, and you might feel frustrated and angry at times. Practice makes perfect and the same goes for RVs. Since RVs are built larger than typical private transport, RV Drivers will want to practice parking in a large parking lot first. 

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Within a large, open space, you’re able to practice turning, parking, K-turns, and even maneuver. Taking one hour per day will allow you to be way more comfortable at the wheel and improve your driving skills considerably. 

Plan Your Trip To Succeed- RV Drivers

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Cliche, but true! Before setting off on a trip, you need to craft a plan first. Plan out your route and stick to it closely; the last thing you want is an unexpected turning and a low-clearance bridge. Leave the exploring to when you’ve reached your destination. 

For safety purposes, we recommend you share your driving plan with your loved ones. That way, they’ll know exactly where you are in case of an emergency. 

Fuel For Food

You need energy food, and so does your RV –– it needs fuel! So, when you plan your route, be aware of how much fuel your RV consumes and plan out well-spaced gas stops to refuel. Unfortunately, gas stations are where most RV newbies get into sticky situations. The low-hanging covers and tight turns spell disaster for the gas pumps! Hence, we recommend sticking it out until you spot a truck stop. 

Truck stops have a larger space to accommodate big vehicles. They are also often located alongside the highway for convenience! For the first few pumps, you might want your travel buddy to guide you when turning into the pump. This helps you avoid being too close to the roof, pump, other cars, or any potential hazard. 


Right Lane Is The Right Lane

Stay as far as you can to the right when driving. By traveling in the right lane, you’re able to drive slower without angry drivers honking at you. It also means that you only need to take note of one mirror, instead of having to multitask at once. Taking it slow is the key to a safe and successful journey! 

Driving at the right lane also allows you to pull over should there be any mechanical trouble, and have easier access to any exits that you need to take. However, it also means that traffic would want to enter through your lane. In this case, slide on to the next lane to let traffic in, then move back into the far-right lane. Otherwise, you can slow down to let traffic in behind or in front of you.

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Knowing When To Break

Time for a little physics lesson. As a driver, we’re sure you are aware of inertia. Unlike cars, however, RVs have much bigger inertia acting against you when you brake. The average RV is already at 5,200 pounds, and adding on the weight of all the additional baggage you’re bringing along, you’re fully stocked to the brim. You need to factor in space to slow down and pay extra attention to the traffic that is directly in front and behind you. 

If you’re towing a trailer, your RV’s brakes are wired to the vehicle’s braking system. You need to be mindful of riding the brakes, which can cause them to overheat and stop completely. We recommend downshifting, as it helps save your brakes from heating up too quickly and move some of the work to the engine.

Keep Your Distance

We strongly advise against tailgating when you’re operating an RV. Not only is it hazardous, but it also makes the driver in front of you anxious, which can lead to dangerous driving. To be safe, leave at least 400 feet between you and the vehicle in front.

Here’s a simple trick to gauge 400 feet on the go. Once a vehicle in front passes a point of reference, such as a mile marker or a light pole, count to four before reaching the same reference point.

Be Patient Around Turns

As RVs are longer and wider, so are their turns, too. Making right turns can be especially treacherous because you’re so near the curb. Take your time and keep an eye on the rearview mirrors. Don’t be afraid to be slow –– it’s better than damaging your RV. 

Take Note Of Tail Swings

Tail swings are responsible for most accidents at gas pumps or in tight maneuvering situations. This refers to how far the end of your RV will swing when you make a turn. To gauge the degree of your tail swing, practice in the parking lot. Park the left side of your Rv against a white line, turn right sharply and let someone gauge how big your tail swing is. 

Check The Weather

Driving in the middle of a rainstorm or heavy winds is a call for trouble, regardless of the vehicle. Make sure to check weather forecasts and applications to ensure that you’re in the clear before driving on the roads. The higher the wind speeds, the more tricky it is to drive an RV. Safety is of utmost importance, and good weather paves the way for a safe journey.

Call A Friend

If you’re unsure about driving an RV alone, ask a spotter to come with you. Don’t shy away from practicing in a large parking area, and always be conscious of your mirrors. 


Generally, driving an RV for RV Drivers is very much like driving a normal car. With practice, skills can be honed and better road trips will eventually fall into place.



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