Friday, December 25, 2015

12/25 Driving Miss Daisy - Part 2

Almost everybody knows that when you drive a big vehicle, you have to swing wide when making turns.  I learned that from online videos.  Here are some other things I learned from experience:

·         You not only have to swing wide, but you have such a horrible turning radius that you really need two lanes to pull out into.  This means if I am coming out of a side street or driveway, I need not only the lane closest to me, but I also need part of the lane next to it.  Even if I am turning right onto a two-lane highway, I need to wait until traffic is clear BOTH ways.  Otherwise, I am going to run over the curb, or into the ditch near me, if there is one.  So please be patient if you are behind me.

·         Because it is so long and has a relatively short wheelbase, my vehicle has a lot of “tail swing.”  This means that if I am making a left turn at a multilane intersection, and you are waiting for the light on my right, my tail will swing around and hit you if I am not careful.  What I have to do is pull ahead straight or at a slight angle until I am clear and then turn more sharply.  Shorter Class Cs and most Class As do not have this problem because they have a longer wheelbase to total length ratio.

·         Because of the first two items, I am constantly using my mirrors to look down the side of my vehicle as I turn corners.  I keep my power mirrors set to the right mirror so I can quickly point it down to make sure I do not run over curbs and scrape my nice tires.  I am also always looking to the right or left when I make a turn to make sure no other vehicles are close enough to get hit by my “tail” as it swings around.  It might seem strange, but I look right when I turn left and left when I turn right!  

·         Wind is my enemy.  My motorhome is not top-heavy, but it is very tall.  This means it is much more susceptible to strong side winds than your car is. Not only will a gust of wind as I am coming over a hill try to take the steering wheel out of my hands, but so will being passed by a big truck or even another large motorhome. This means I have to keep my hands on the steering wheel and pay attention most of the time so I don’t lose control.  It requires a lot more concentration this way, but I don’t want to go careening down an embankment somewhere.

·         My vehicle is also a lot wider than your typical car.  That means that narrow roads are really scary, especially if they have narrow shoulders.  Running off a road with a front tire could mean losing control if there is any sort of drop-off, so I have to watch what I am doing carefully.  The other problem with some secondary roads is that they were not graded flat when asphalt was laid down, so they tend to toss my vehicle from side to side, making me have to slow down.  I love wide shoulders and wide roads and am never happy when my GPS takes me on a narrow secondary road.

As you can see from all of the above, driving a motorhome is a lot more active and requires much more attention than does driving a car.  It is not especially difficult, but it is a lot more tiring so most of us do not drive a lot of miles in one day.  I used to think nothing of driving 400-500 miles in a day.  Now, I prefer to drive no more than 200 miles per day.  I have driven 300, but it was really exhausting.  And since I am retired, I can take it a little easier these days in terms of having a deadline.     


  1. Bill says it is like driving a sail boat when the wind is blowing.

    1. Absolutely. I once drove east on I-10 in Texas for several hundred miles with a perfect tail wind that blew me across the state, but another time had a horrible side wind on that same stretch of highway that easily slowed me down 10-20 MPH! Very hard to steer on the second trip because had to adjust for every gust.