Driving a class A, YIKES!

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RVMommaTo6

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Deciding to travel around and live in a motorhome for a while was the easy part. Picking out which one I wanted was the fun part. Now I have to drive?!?! Aughhhhhh lol, but seriously, I'm kind of nervous. The highways don't scare me, but driving through construction zones where the lanes narrow terrifies me. And turning. And parking. I have to pick up my new Class A and my anxiety is getting the best of me. Then I have to drive it from Tampa to NY.
I've googled advice on how to drive a class A mh but I would definitely appreciate any words of wisdom anyone is willing to share. I've towed both my pop up and my 35ft TT, but the largest vehicle I've driven is my 12 passenger van. Help! Thank you!
 

Alpena Jeff

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It's not if you're going to hit an orange cone, it's how many!
Ok, not true for most but I thought it was funny when I was told that.
I'm also a newbie, 7k miles behind the wheel. A little intimidating for awhile but you do get the hang of it. Keep it slow, build confidence. Move your line of sight further down the road. If your rig is sound, tires inflated properly you will be fine.
Good luck.
 

UTTransplant

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Cedar Falls, IA
The RV driving class Kevin and I took was worth every penny. Can you get one? Our instructor provided all kinds of good information about driving, turning, backing, and even those dreaded narrow lanes.
 

SeilerBird

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I think you will be pleasantly shocked. You must remember rich people are the ones buying the brand new RVs (well upper middle class at least) and they normally drive Cadillacs, BMWs, Lexus, etc. If driving a large RV was difficult or crazy then they would never sell them. They drive as easy as a luxury automobile. There really isn't a whole lot of difference between driving a large class A and a Cadillac other than the gas mileage. The front always follows the back. RVs accelerate, brake and turn a bit slower, but still all the same principals apply. If you can drive a car you will have no problem getting used to driving an RV.

My last girl friend bought a 32 foot class C for us and she did not want to drive it. Flat out refused. So we picked it up and drove up Eisenhower grade west of Denver. I got about half way up and pulled over and ordered her to take the wheel. My thinking was that if I got injured she would have to do the driving. She reluctantly got into the drivers seat and within five minutes was OMGing over and over. She loved it.

It looks big and it looks scary, but it is a blast to drive.c
 

ArdraF

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Seilerbird is right.  Don't let the size intimidate you.  I LOVE driving our 40 ft diesel pusher towing a car!  When we took delivery of our first DP in the middle of winter in Indiana we had our factory work done and then had to leave to go south ahead of approaching bad weather.  Jerry wanted to read the manuals so I drove the first 1600 miles.  I drove right through the middle of Indianapolis - raining, construction barriers all around, and surrounded by semis.  I think I held my breath the whole time but made it through there and figured I could drive that thing anywhere.  Been driving ever since and love it.  Just don't close your eyes going through tight spots!  ;D :eek: ::) You'll do just fine.  Oh yes, and welcome to the RV Forum, Amanda.

ArdraF
 

Chameleonxanth

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ArdraF said:
Seilerbird is right.  Don't let the size intimidate you.  I LOVE driving our 40 ft diesel pusher towing a car!  When we took delivery of our first DP in the middle of winter in Indiana we had our factory work done and then had to leave to go south ahead of approaching bad weather.  Jerry wanted to read the manuals so I drove the first 1600 miles.  I drove right through the middle of Indianapolis - raining, construction barriers all around, and surrounded by semis.  I think I held my breath the whole time but made it through there and figured I could drive that thing anywhere.  Been driving ever since and love it.  Just don't close your eyes going through tight spots!  ;D :eek: ::) You'll do just fine.  Oh yes, and welcome to the RV Forum, Amanda.

ArdraF

This is inspiring and hella impressive.  :)
 

RVMommaTo6

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Jeff maybe I'll collect orange cones as souvenirs lol, my collection isn't complete until I have one from each state lol
UT, I wondered if they had classes. I'll call the local driving school and see if they have one before I head to Florida. I considered taking some sort of CDL class even though we don't need a CDL to drive.
Seiler, upper middle class is rich to me! Lol, I've never owned a brand new car or a Lexus or BMW or anything. But it is reassuring that they think anyone with a driver license can drive an RV, I keep telling myself, not requiring a CDL has to be a good sign.
Thank you Andra! Mine is much smaller, 31.5ft and it's gas. I'm glad I don't need to start out towing a car. I'm flying down and driving it back up. But I will be towing once we start our cross country trip. I figure by then I should be way more comfortable behind the wheel.
I'm not even scared of anything big, like a crash. I think I'm a safe enough driver to have a low risk of a bad accident, I'm scared of the little bumps and bruises like hitting curbs with the back end or not quite making a turn without bringing along a fire hydrant lol. Or even low bridges. *shudder*  those are terrifying, I've seen trucks stuck under bridges, that is not my idea of fun.
 

scottydl

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RVMommato6 said:
I've towed both my pop up and my 35ft TT, but the largest vehicle I've driven is my 12 passenger van.

Perspective is everything... I loved driving our 35' Class A motorhome, always looked forward to being able to do so. Yet was nervous about the once-new experience of towing our 35' TT that we now have. But I've gotten used to that in just the same way! ;D

As mentioned, Class A's really LOOK more intimidating than they FEEL when driving. As a driver you are sitting over the top of the front/steering wheels (instead of behind them like you're accustomed to in cars/trucks/vans) so that's the main difference in feel and you'll get used to it quick.

- Take turns slow and wide when driving forward, and watch the rear wheels (in your side mirror) as they will "track" along a sharper path than your front steering wheels. This will become second nature.
- Be aware of the "tail swing" which is where the motorhome body behind the rear wheels can swing out a little wide if taking a sharp turn (rare).
- Remember, likely similar to towing your 35' TT, no tricky moves in the MH will be done quickly. Slow and controlled make it all do-able!
- Find a big empty parking lot, and practice!! Get used to what kind of starts/stops/turns you can expect. It will increase your confidence in the vehicle's abilities.

Be assured that the motorhome's engine is big enough to move that rig down the road, and the brakes are big enough to stop it. ;) In a motorhome, you are sitting up higher, have better visibility, are bigger, heavier, and are moving slower than the majority of the traffic around you. That gives you the roadway advantage in almost every way, and makes for an enjoyable driving experience once you are used to the unique parts of the vehicle and its handling.
 

HappyWanderer

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A motorhome drives nothing like a car: I really wish people would stop saying that. Also, it is not acceptable to drive around banging into things and causing property damage. That traffic cone could just as easily be a construction worker.
 

RVMommaTo6

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Maybe this won't be so bad :) thanks for talking me off a ledge (jk) I definitely feel better now than I did. If I can't find a class, maybe I can ask the guy I'm buying from to stick around for a few minutes to practice the basics before I'm off on my own.
 

SeilerBird

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Here is the secret for never hitting a curb. To make a turn (either right or left) keep one eye on the outside mirror on the side you turning in to (turning right, watch the right mirror). As soon as the back tires are past the end of the curb you can start cranking the wheel. Impossible to hit the curb at that point because you are already past it. People hit the curb because they start the turn too soon. Cars are so short you don't need to worry about hitting a curb but with a long RV if you turn too soon you will hit the curb. If you wait until the wheels are clear you won't hit the curb. It will take you further into the intersection than you would think is necessary, but it works every single time.

As far as hitting something overhead, that is easier to do. All the bridges and overhead lights are high enough up to allow 18 wheelers to pass without issue and they are taller than you are so they won't be a problem. However if you go into a residential neighborhood you have to be on the look out for trees that hang too low.

An every one of us has a dozen stories about hitting something or backing into something or doing something really stupid, like driving with a slide out, driving with the 10 foot sewer hose still attached (boy was I embarrassed when someone honked at me and pointed to my sewer hose) or driving around with the TV antenna up. Ships happen. You will have a few great stories after a while and we wear them like a badge. Nothing to get embarrassed about. Meanwhile relax and think about all the fun you will be having. That is the reason we all RV, it is a blast. Huge country, lots to see. 8)
 

SeilerBird

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I have an offer for you Amanda. I live about 100 miles east of Tampa in Orlando and I am retired. If you can't find anyone else to help you I would drive down to Tampa, help you set it up (adjust tire pressure, air bags, etc), show you how to do a pre-trip inspection and teach you how to drive it for $100 and lunch. If I lived in Tampa I would do it for lunch but it involves four hours of driving just to get there and back.
 

RVMommaTo6

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Awesome!!! That's sooooo nice of you! Thank you so much, I'll check with the dealer and if he won't, I'll check with you before I fly down. Thank you!
 

ArdraF

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Definitely the person you buy it from should take you out on a test drive, hopefully before you put your money down!  He also should give you some lessons in how to operate everything.  If he doesn't you won't know if they actually all work!  That includes water hoses, faucets and how to hook them up, television (over-the-air, cable, satellite if it has a dish), electrical hookups (30 amp vs 50 amp and adapters). black and gray tank dumping and rinsing, the propane tank, computer receptacles, in other words EVERYTHING!

The library (button above) has checklists for taking delivery of your RV.  Take a pad of paper and pencil so you can take notes.  If you have someone who can go with you that would be good.  Trust me, it will seem overwhelming and your first night will be one question after another, as in What did he say about...?  You will get through it!  And, last, don't be afraid to ask here what you think are dumb questions because the question not asked is the dumb one.  We all were beginners at one time and every new RV we buy is a challenge initially because they're all different  So take a deep breath and open your mind to learning as much as possible in a short time.  Good luck!  And have fun driving your new chariot home.

ArdraF
 

JoelP

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San Jose, CA
It is amazing what would look seemingly impossible but we get used to with a little experience and soon think little of it.  Some other examples things that people adapt to are CPAP machines and orthodontia.  At first blush these would both be seemingly impossible to get used to, but people do. 

Personally I find that my Class A is much easier to drive than my previous Class C. Perhaps the most challenging thing is knowing your road position.  You might try a small piece of tape on the windshield above the wipers that corresponds to the road center to be very useful.  You can also mark your backup monitor by setting a couple of strings parallel to your coach sides  20 ft back and then marking these on your backup monitor. This, along with your side view mirrors, will give you extra confidence of your road position.a

Enjoy your new rig.
 

docj

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JoelP said:
Personally I find that my Class A is much easier to drive than my previous Class C. Perhaps the most challenging thing is knowing your road position. 

Our side mirrors consist of flat mirrors on the top and convex ones on the lower portion.  I have the convex mirrors set so I can see the "white lines" on both the driver and passenger side in them.  That way I know that I'm properly positioned in my lane.  If I wish I can also give a glance to my rear view camera to see that my toad is properly centered in its lane.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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If you are buying at Lazydays, they have a Class A driver familiarzation class, part classroom and part hands on. Not really a driving course, but it gets you some initial help.

I doubt if a local driving school can help - they won't have a Class A or a trained driver. A truck driving school might give you a day or so, or at least let you sit in on a class.  The only real RV driving school is this one - https://www.rvschool.com/
Probably too late to get a class scheduled.

The Class A driver position throws off your years of learned reactions in a car.  You are sitting over the wheels, not behind them, so the perspective is different. You need to focus your vision down the road, away from the near-front that you can now see all-too-well. And avoid spending too much time looking in the mirrors to see where the back end is - it will be right behind you!  If you are staring into the side mirrors, you aren't driving straight down the highway and you will need to correct when you look back.  Probably over-correct at first. 

When in a really narrow lane, maybe with concrete barriers on the sides, look ahead and trust your instinct to keep in the center of the lane. If you start watching the side barriers too close, I can pretty much guarantee you will scrape one.  Many (most?) of us have been there, done that.

Notice I keep sating look far ahead. That lets the natural parallax of your vision tell your brain where to point to stay in the center. It also helps you see and anticipate traffic so you can gradually slow or speed up, turn, etc.  Everything takes longer to do in a large vehicle.

Turns:  Before turning the wheels, drive further into an intersection or sharp curve than you would with a car. Somewhat like your 35 ft trailer, the motorhome pivot point i way back, you you need to allow room for the back end to get around the bend.
 

wackymac

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One thing that I would like to add---DON'T TAILGATE!!!!!!  Leave plenty of stopping room between you and the vehicle ahead of you.
 

UTTransplant

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RVMommato6 said:
Jeff maybe I'll collect orange cones as souvenirs lol, my collection isn't complete until I have one from each state lol
UT, I wondered if they had classes. I'll call the local driving school and see if they have one before I head to Florida. I considered taking some sort of CDL class even though we don't need a CDL to drive.
Seiler, upper middle class is rich to me! Lol, I've never owned a brand new car or a Lexus or BMW or anything. But it is reassuring that they think anyone with a driver license can drive an RV, I keep telling myself, not requiring a CDL has to be a good sign.
Thank you Andra! Mine is much smaller, 31.5ft and it's gas. I'm glad I don't need to start out towing a car. I'm flying down and driving it back up. But I will be towing once we start our cross country trip. I figure by then I should be way more comfortable behind the wheel.
I'm not even scared of anything big, like a crash. I think I'm a safe enough driver to have a low risk of a bad accident, I'm scared of the little bumps and bruises like hitting curbs with the back end or not quite making a turn without bringing along a fire hydrant lol. Or even low bridges. *shudder*  those are terrifying, I've seen trucks stuck under bridges, that is not my idea of fun.
Check out RVdrivingschool.com. BTW, I do love driving the motorhome now. I actually drive it significantly more than Kevin, and I feel very comfortable. We have 3500 miles or so on it now. Everybody is different, but the key take away for me is that it takes 3 lanes to turn right. If you have a narrow lane and can?t drift left, you will take up two lanes for a bit as you turn. If you have a narrow lane to the right, you have to drift left and take two lanes before the turn. Look at the truckers; that?s just what they do. I had driven long truck/travel trailer combos before, but having the wheels behind my seat was odd. I learned to check my back tires in the mirror as I turned, and that lets you know you?re fine. Left turns are easy, and I found backing soooooo much easier than a truck/trailer combo. We tow a Jeep Grand Cherokee too, so total length is near 60?. You can do this!

Oh, and Bill Dane from this forum gave me the recommendation to find a sight line in your coach that will line up with the lane edge, both left and right. For me, it is a certain spot just past where the dash curves for the left. If I am farther than that, I am good.
 

Tom and Margi

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In your original post you mentioned you have pulled a 35 foot TT.  I think you'll find driving your new Class A much easier than that.  You'll enjoy the increased visibility that comes from being so high in the air as you look down the road for possible hazards. 
 
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