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Old 11-25-2012, 11:56 AM   #1
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Driving lessons

Hi all, we just purchased a 2013 Itasca Meridian. Any ideas for how to learn to drive this as we are new at his.
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Old 11-25-2012, 12:00 PM   #2
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Practice, practice practice was what we did.

Hint your co-pilot will have to also get used to the view from the right seat and will tell you that you are driving too far right.
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Old 11-25-2012, 12:34 PM   #3
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First things, first. Congratulations on your new purchase! And, welcome to the forum. We know you will find many friendly and helpful folks here. We certainly have!

There are RV Driving Schools located across the country. That's something to check out.

Contact your local Winnebago-Itasca Travelers (WIT) chapter and inquire if there is a member who would be interested in providing you some coaching.

We did receive some sage advice from the dealer when we bought our first Winnie. So, we'll share.

1. Never, ever be in a hurry.
2. Sit on the center line. (You won't, actually. But, compared to your car, it will feel like you are.) If you take care of the left side, the right side (passenger side) will take care of itself.
3. Watch your mirrors.
4. Don't cut corners. Turns take practice. Lots of it.
5. If you ever find yourself in a tight spot. Stop. Get out and look around. You can't see everything from the driver's seat.

Hope that helps.

Wishing you many safe, happy and trouble-free miles.
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Old 11-25-2012, 12:50 PM   #4
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Well, you'll get lots of responses here but, in my opinion, for whatever it's worth is, take your new rig, to high school parking lot, Costco, Stadium, warehouse or any other deserted parking lot of size and, practice. Anyone on the planet can drive them in a straight line on a freeway someplace but, handling them in tight quarter situations is where the skills improvements are really needed.

If you can, get some plastic cones, kids soccer ones or, traffic ones or what ever you can find that will not be damaged if you accidentally "bump" into one or, run over it or, it hits the body of the coach, it won't inflict any damage.

Now, set them up as tight turns to the right and left. Realize how much a the coach "cheats" as it makes tight turns. Picture a fuel pump where one of your cones are at and, it's a tight turn to get into position to fuel up. Do it from both approaches, left and right.

Now, do the same for backing. Not many folks back into a fuel pump situation and I'm not implying that you do but, there WILL be times when backing is needed, like for the rest of your life, SO, backing skills are very important. Your rig will change it's turning timing, so to speak, from going forward around an obstacle to, going backward around an obstacle.

Start out with the basics, slight turns, both ways, and more, getting better as you progress from tighter and tighter turns and backing. Now, no one says you have to learn it all in one day. Go do it for an hour or so, and take a break for a day or so. Then hit it again. Do it to your limit of tolerance and, above all, DON'T GET FRUSTRATED! They're big, boxy, and blind. Treat them as such.

One thing you must take into account is "height". Driving the average car around normal situation usually doesn't contain any height worries but, an 11' high Kleenex box, in camping situations, OFTEN DOES! Tree branches, possible telephone lines etc. may or may not come into play during campsite negotiating. Your head and eyes must move in multiple directions, consistently checking mirrors, overhead in front as well as the rear while pulling into or, backing into a spot.

How many times has someone said, "I didn't see that branch or pole or whatever, as the analyze the damage done to their very expensive coach.

Sorry for the long reply but, as stated, driving them in a straight line on a freeway in the middle of Montana is child's play. It's all other situations that you need to be at the top of the game. Good luck.
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Old 11-25-2012, 12:51 PM   #5
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First it is not as hard as it might seem. Second it does take practice. Third there are some basics a few of which I will share. Fourth there are some driving schools and self help videos which I am sure others will reference before this thread is through.

Make your moves purposely and slowly and plan ahead. Watch your speed everything looks slower at the height you are sitting and it is easy to let your speed creep up on you.

Always leave a lot of room between you and vehicles to your front, your rig will not stop as easily as your car. It takes a while so leave room. Drive looking ahead so you can anticipate what is coming up, one real advantage to a MH is you can see far ahead. This is very handy when looking for turns so you can get into the proper lanes in time. Also it can tell you when traffic is slowong and you can slow accordingly before the big fast stop.

Use your mirrors, keep tabs on things to your right and left. Always signal and alway ease into lanes using your convex mirror to see directly to the side and your rear view to see in the distance.

When driving straight you need to know when your right wheels are on the white line same with the left. So mark a spot on your dash board that when your wheels are on those lines and you look forward from your natural driving position the line intersects your dash board. You can put a small piece of tape there or sometimes it falls on a easily remember place. In my case I know my right wheels are on the line when I am looking forward and that white line intersects the rubber windshield divider at the dash board. On the left I have a corner of a dash access panel and when looking forward when the white line out front is at the corner of that panel I know my left wheels are about six inches off that driver side white line. This will allow you to keep your RV centered or if needed to move to one side and know just how far you can go. Practice give you confidence.

When cornering you need to make L shaped corners, pull out straight until your rear wheels get almost even with the curb then begin making your turn. You will exaggerate it a bit until you get the feel for it, obviously in order to make a slow turn like that you need to have plenty of room from oncoming traffic so be patient. You will learn to do this by feel with just a few tries.

Remember tail wag. When you are at a stand still or making any sharp turn the rear of your motor home pivots on the real duals. That throws the rear end out as much a five or so feet in the rear. Right turn and your rear swings out on the left side. This is particularly important when turning out of a filling station when you have pumps on one side or the other. So make gradual turns away from object like that keeping an eye in your rear view for the opposit side of your turn. Does your rear end clear any objects back there? Most often this lesson is learned the hard way on those red or yellow bollisters placed by gas pumps to prevent people from hitting them.

Before you commit to go into any filling station or any tight place really make sure you see how you can exit as well. Getting in is one thing getting out another. Particularly if you are towing and cannot back up.

Backing up is again remembering that your back will pivot at the dual wheels so make sure your rears are a bit beyond where you want the tail of your rig to go , also remembe rthe front then swings out in the opposite direction so move slowly. It is best to have a spotter at all times to guide you into your spot. So who ever is not driving needs to get out and be in sight of your mirrors. Use previously agreed upon hand signals and the driver needs to follow the instructions of the spotter. If you are in doubt then stop and communicate. Do not be in a hurry.

Take some 2x4s and standing objects to an empty parking lot say at a school on the weekend and practice. Both of you should learn how to drive and to spot. In a few hours you can get the hang of backing up and driving making turns. You can also see how your rig moves, how far the rear swings etc;

Congratulations on your new rig. When this stuff is written it can seem ovewhelming however my experience was once around the block with the person where we bought the rig then everything else was learned on the road trial and error. I think most of us are in the same position.

There is more to tell but this is a start. Good luck, now go practice for a few hours and your confidence wil gain by the minute.
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Old 11-25-2012, 02:04 PM   #6
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My wife took the driving course at Lazydays RV near Tampa (Seffner), and drove a MH through an obstacle course without incident. She was thrilled to be able to drive one of the "monsters" although she will probably ride most of the time. I attended the course with her and it was professionally presented. I realize that you are not near Tampa, but most of the course is presented online without charge. The 1st chapter is available at the link below:
RV Driver Confidence Course: Part 1 - Better RVing
An additional 6 chapters are listed below the first chapter-just click on them. I think you will find these to be invaluable as a starting point; then practice, practice practice.
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Old 11-26-2012, 03:00 PM   #7
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Check out "" some good videos on driving, repair, tires pressure, clearing and etc. You can learned a lot about motorhomes and RV in general.
Good luck
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Old 11-26-2012, 07:26 PM   #8
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First, welcome to the forum from a fellow Virginian. I will add my opinion on your question.

If you have never driven large vehicles, I would suggest you try and get some instruction. I have a friend who is in the auto collision repair business and he has in the past 3 years started to do RV repairs. I was at his place today. I am amazed at the new motorhomes (and used), travel trailers, 5th wheels that he gets with damage that is due to driver inexperience. He confirms that many of these are from first time users.

Check with RV dealers in your area to see if they have someone or can recommend someone. Inquire with your local fire department to see if one of the firefighters might give you some instruction on their time off to earn a few extra bucks. If you know someone who drives large trucks they may be willing to help. Or, if you know a fellow RV'r they may be willing to give you some instruction.

Good luck and I hope you have many safe and happy miles in your new coach.
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Old 11-28-2012, 01:46 PM   #9
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Thanks to all for great tips and info. Great RV community as I was told.

Btw, the folks who recommended to take a lesson. I have been trying hard to find someone to come to North Carolina (statesville) for a private lesson for my wife and me for the week of April 1' 2013. This is the date I am planning to pick up the RV.
Meanwhile I have been reading and watching anything i have been able to find.
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:13 PM   #10
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As a motorhome owner and a trucking company owner here are my tips:
  • First of all, it isn't as difficult as it may seem. Just takes some practice and getting used to. You can definetly do it!
  • Never, never, never, drive "in a hurry".
  • Don't let others rush you or make you nervous. If you get in a tight spot, throw on your four ways, and take your time figuring it out.
  • G.O.A.L (get out and look)
  • Leave plenty of room between you and what's in front of you. These rigs take longer to stop.
  • Careful about pulling off onto soft shoulders. These heavy rigs can get stuck if not careful.
  • Pay attention to speed limits and obey them, especially on ramps. Remember to follow the speed limits for large vehicles, not cars.
  • Don't drive tired. In trucking, the law says 11hrs max driving in one day. Pretty good guideline to follow.
All the best to you.
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:59 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by jomidabr
As a motorhome owner and a trucking company owner here are my tips:

[*]First of all, it isn't as difficult as it may seem. Just takes some practice and getting used to. You can definetly do it![*]Never, never, never, drive "in a hurry".[*]Don't let others rush you or make you nervous. If you get in a tight spot, throw on your four ways, and take your time figuring it out.[*]G.O.A.L (get out and look)[*]Leave plenty of room between you and what's in front of you. These rigs take longer to stop.[*]Careful about pulling off onto soft shoulders. These heavy rigs can get stuck if not careful.[*]Pay attention to speed limits and obey them, especially on ramps. Remember to follow the speed limits for large vehicles, not cars.[*]Don't drive tired. In trucking, the law says 11hrs max driving in one day. Pretty good guideline to follow.
All the best to you.
I was with ya all the way till the end. Just my opinion but - Trucking laws are for professional drivers and along with 11 hours drive time allows for an additional 3 hours of work time a day - 14 hour day with 10 hours off before getting behind the wheel. Driving = money, time sitting = not getting to drop off and getting driving again. Gotta eat and pay the bills.

I would not recommend a truckers legal driving rules for most RV drivers - especially not a newbie. Doubtful they could do it if they wanted to. I know people will say - I drive my DP 10 hours all the time and i say good for you. But a new driver needs to be realistic about their driving capabilities. Planning a vacation around multiple 11 hour driving days is doable for the well initiated but pushing it hard for many if not most. Drivers often travel their routes many times - know where they're going etc. We amateurs - not so much. And after all - is keeping to a truckers legal driving schedule really the way to vacation. YMMV.

Edited: but in fairness - you did say don't drive tired.
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:42 AM   #12
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If you are buying it from a dealer I would think they might take you out for a short course on how to drive it. If it's a private deal I know I would take you out, after you have insurance on it. Just kidding. Any how the video's from Lazy Days driving course is very good. It also tells you how to set up your mirrors, how to turn, and back up. It's a very good course. I bought my first motor home from them and took it before I drove it home to Pennsylvania. My first trip.
Good Luck and just take it slow.
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