For many of us, summer means hitting the open road, getting back to nature, and enjoying all of the comforts of home in an RV or travel trailer. To make sure everyone's family rides safely throughout the summer, drivers need to keep several things in mind when driving or sharing the road with RVs.
Did you know you don't need a special drivers licence to drive most RVs in Alberta? As long as the RV doesn't have air brakes, your regular Class 5 licence is all you need to drive most RVs.
But an RV isn't really just a big car! There are differences - RVs are taller, wider, longer, and heavier.
- It takes you longer to stop in an RV or while towing a trailer. Leave more room between you and the vehicle in front of you.
- It will also take you longer to get up to speed. Allow more room before entering traffic.
- Take your time and stay to the right on multi-lane highways. One one lane highways, allow traffic to pass when it is safe to do so.
- On hills, use lower gears both uphill and downhill. When going downhill, don't gain too much speed. You can use your flashers to alert other drivers that you'll be driving slowly up or down the hill.
- Remember how tall you are! Be aware of bridges, overpasses, or even gas stations with low clearance.
- Your turns are wider. You may have to take up more than one lane in order to make the turn. Make sure to use your signals to indicate to other drivers what you are doing. And if you do not have enough room, don't force the turn. Either wait until it is safe to make the turn, or continue on and look for the next safe opportunity to turn.
- Your blind spots are much larger. Check your mirrors frequently and look for vehicles, motorcyclists, or cyclists who might be in your side blind spots. Stay far enough back from the vehicle ahead of you to allow a slow, gradual stop - there may be someone in your rear blind spot and this can help prevent a rear-end collision.
- When backing up or parking have someone outside providing you direction and signals.
- If you are towing a trailer with your RV, make sure the hitch is suitable for the trailer's weight and is fitted with approved safety chains or cables. Any trailer weighing more than 910 kg must be fitted with its own set of brakes.
SHARE THE ROAD
- It takes RVs longer to stop. Don't cut them off - if you're passing an RV, don't pull in front of it until you can see the entire front of the vehicle in your rear view mirror.
- Don't drive in the RV's blind spots at the rear or sides. If you can't see the side mirrors of an RV ahead of you, they also can't see you. Also avoid driving right beside an RV.
- Be patient. RVs may be driving slower than you wish to go, especially on one-lane roads and on hills. Give them room, and only pass when it is safe to do so - and remember not to cut them off.
CHECK IT OUT
Whether you're headed to the campsite or headed home, complete a pre-trip check to make sure your RV is in good working order before you leave. You can find a pre-trip checklist here. There are also RV checklist apps available to help you make sure you haven't forgotten anything.
Find out more about what vehicles you can drive with a Class 5 driver's licence in the Driver’s Guide to operation, safety and licensing: cars and light trucks.
Learn about the Alberta Motor Association's half-day RV Smart course.
Check your RV's towing and weight requirements in the Recreational Vehicle Towing Guide.
Find out how to register your RV or trailer at Alberta.ca.