Urban RV driving tips


Urban driving photo courtesy of DoItYourselfRV

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Some of the most white-knuckle experiences that new RVers can have is negotiating urban traffic in an RV. Traffic is heavy, streets narrow, and things just seem so overwhelming. Here are a few tips to help make navigating city streets easier on the nerves.

First, plan ahead. Map your route – don’t just depend on your GPS system – it can get you into trouble. Plotting your route on an Internet mapping service like Google Maps can give you a bird’s eye view of the streets, and by using the “satellite” function, you can zoom in on streets in detail to get a feel for areas that may be too narrow to negotiate.

Planning also means avoiding high-traffic times. During the business week, traveling in early and late commuter traffic is a sure-fire recipe for nervous sweats. Sometimes weekends can be surprising – trying to travel through Las Vegas on a Saturday morning can be a mind-blower – everyone has the day off and wants to get somewhere else.

Special street conditions with a large rig can cause consternation. Making corners with a big rig or with a trailer behind requires keeping an eye on your rear-end. When approaching a turn, take it wide, and keep an eye on your rearview mirror on the curbside. You don’t want to “bark your shins” by dragging your rear tires (or trailer) up over the curb.

Similarly, “roundabouts” or “traffic circles” are areas requiring close attention. Here you should keep tight to the curve and keep a close eye on your blind spot mirror. You also need to watch out not just for your rig, but for “idiot drivers” who want to play “squeeze.”

Approaching narrow sections of roadways, it’s important to be “lined up” in a good lane position. Keeping an eye on the right-hand curb with your rearview mirror, line up your rig by staying inside the centerline, but not too far in. Some motorhome drivers have found they can use their windshield center post as a reference point.

Got a backup camera on your rig? Don’t just use it for backing up. Keep it turned on to keep a weather-eye on traffic behind you. And take full advantage of any extra eyes you have on board. The person in the right-hand seat should act as your navigator, keeping watch for upcoming turns, invisible traffic and the like.

D√; ##RVT824


7 Thoughts to “Urban RV driving tips”

  1. Tommy Molnar

    The absolute worst part of our Carson City, NV to Quartzsite, AZ trip is ALWAYS the Las Vegas portion. The traffic is craziness! There’s always road construction. Just when you think you’ve got the best route memorized, they open up a new construction project and all your plans are out the window. And, we will NEVER go through on a Saturday morning!

  2. Robbie

    I-15 through Salt Lake City is our nemesis. We’ve learned to avoid SLC by going different routes.

  3. George

    When going through Salt Lake City try the Legacy Parkway. It cuts out a lot of interchanges and for the north half no vehicle with 5 or more axles are allowed so no semi traffic.

  4. Eric Eltinge

    2018 Random McNally Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas is America’s best selling trucker’s atlas. Highlights 18-wheeler routes. If they can get thru, you can get thru. $19.95.

    1. squeakytiki

      The 2017 version is one of the first things I bought after getting my motorhome. I bought it even before getting my Garmin.

  5. rvgrandma

    I agree – SLC and LV are horrible to get through. Portland and Seattle are no better. Sacramento can be horrible during high traffic times. LA – forget it. We solve it by going through early early or late late

  6. Jim

    When going through round-a-bouts I turn on the emergency flashers prior to the entrance and take up both lanes. That way no one tries to crowd me.

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