Four Highway Driving Tips For Newbie RVers

I (Chris) drive Bessie (our 28′ Class C Motorhome) most of the time.  I have a tendency to get motion sick if I’m not driving and Ted (my husband) tends to get a little drowsy in a moving vehicle.  Soooo….it works best for everyone when I’m the Captain.

Driving Miss Bessie on a Country Road:  Easy Peasy

The first time I drove Bessie, I was admittedly nervous, yet excited.  It was a manageable challenge on a country road while traveling 35-55 mph.  I was surprised by how similar it was to driving an SUV.  I thought, “If I can drive on these country roads, I can drive anywhere, right??”  Uh, wrong.  The problem with overconfidence is that you don’t know that you are overly confident until you are presented with your ineptitude.

Driving Miss Bessie on the Highway:  Terrifying

Driving Bessie on the highway the first few times was terrifying.  Every time a semi passed me (which happened a lot), it created a wind vortex that sucked the RV toward the semi, and as the truck moved away, it’s wind would push the RV away.  This created a rocking and swerving sensation in the RV that I desperately fought to control.

Like most questions related to RVing, I researched this phenomenon on YouTube and discovered that I should move the RV to the outside (far right) line when a large vehicle passes me.  And the passing semi usually moves to their outside (far left) line, which reduces the drag between our vehicles and prevents sway.

Another important thing that we have learned is the value of having properly inflated tires.  Under-inflated tires will create a terrible driving performance in an RV. I am not sure why, but once Ted figured it out, it became much easier to drive Bessie on the highway.  We now carry an air compressor and Ted checks the tires regularly when we are traveling.

One last piece of wisdom related to driving an RV is to use moderate speeds.  Long-time RVers share that 55 mph is the ideal speed for fuel efficiency, which becomes a priority when we are filling up the gigantic tank every few hundred miles.  Most importantly, Bessie is an 11,000 pound ungainly, top-heavy, non-aerodynamic metal box with no roll bars in the frame of the coach.  Why go fast and potentially lose control of the vehicle, risking my most precious cargo (my family)?

Summary of Useful Highway Driving Tips For Newbie RVers:

  1. Overconfidence is never a good thing, particularly for a newbie RVer.  It’s actually a false sense of security that can be quite dangerous.  Ask questions, do research on YouTube and read RV Forums, Facebook Pages and Blogs to build your knowledge. I am a member of several Facebook RV groups.  It’s a great way to learn and meet new people.  Not sure where to start?  How about with the Facebook group, “RV Happiness,” a page I started to connect RV enthusiasts from the blogging and non-blogging world who love talking about RVing.  Speaking of bloggers, there are so many great RV Bloggers out there.  Google “RV Blogs” and find a long list of good reading.
  2. Scoot over to the far right line when being passed by a large vehicle.  This will reduce sway and help you to stay in control of the RV.
  3.  Make sure your tires are properly inflated.  Check them often.
  4. Going 55 mph on the highway will provide greater fuel efficiency and control when driving an 11,000 pound behemoth.

Do you have tips to share that help you to drive your rig?  Please share in the comments below.

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8 Comments

  • Reply sharon kreps February 11, 2015 at 9:08 am

    Kudos to you for driving- i still leave that task to hubby- except for some parking lot trials. Good article! We have a 30ft class C chosen for most of the reasons you mentioned, but i sure do look at those Lovely A motocoaches!

    • Reply chrishughes February 11, 2015 at 2:22 pm

      Thank you for your kind words, Sharon!!! This is a brand spanking new blog and I am delighted that you found your way to me. The Class A Motorhomes look pretty good to me, too. Maybe some day… What brand Class C do you have? Do you like it overall? Thanks again for stopping by and sharing your comments. It was so nice to meet you. Don’t be a stranger!

      • Reply sharon kreps February 11, 2015 at 4:27 pm

        We have a 3010DS Sunseeker. It’s just us and the dog. We take grandkids every so often for short trips. I do hate having to make up the dinette into the bed. Everything is spread
        all over. So far, both kids (8 and 11) are a little unwilling to sleep over the cab as we have NO rail and they are afraid of falling. I wish we could rig up a rail, but haven’t figured that out.
        We love the Sunseeker, EXCEPT for: very uncomfortable jackknife sofa for sitting. We’d like to replace with stadium seating. Also, the dinette seating is a large U and looks super, but it has a short seat base, and it is slippery. It is not comfortable for us to sit for long. We had a 28 foot trailer for 3 years before we bought this and bought this for the walk around bed. But that dinette was comfortable for sitting.
        While I love the Class As, after we travel East and West as snowbirds, I could be tempted to trade the Sunseeker in for a stationary… Fifth Wheel ? in a location we would return to every winter.
        We are 68 & 70- just moved to a great new community near the beach in DE. Maybe less driving exploration would be ok in a couple years. I still sorta want an A frame trailer! Just the basics!
        Sharon

  • Reply chrishughes February 11, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    Fifth Wheels are impressive all around. Some of them are bigger than my first apartment! And the interiors are generally pretty fabulous! I would definately want something like that if I stayed stationary for long periods of time.

  • Reply analli April 3, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    Good read. Thanks for the tips!

  • Reply Christine Belletti April 21, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    Oh yes driving on the highway was quite an experience all its own. No driving one handed. Grip that wheel with all you got when a semitruck comes by you. But we still travel the highways but at times a bit slower..

    • Reply Chris Hughes April 21, 2015 at 2:46 pm

      Hi Christine! Yep, I grip the wheel When a semi passes, too. Before I realized that I should be moving way over in my lane, I also experimented with opening and closing the driver’s side window to see it’s impact on the push/pull of the wind as the truck passed. That didn’t last long. The wind would blow my sunglasses off and take my breath away! Hahaha! Oh well, what’s important is I learned what works and what doesn’t work, right? 🙂

    Thoughts?