Have you ever driven 25 to 40-plus feet of machinery down the road? It's vastly different than operating a regular-sized passenger vehicle. Whether it's a travel trailer, camper, or coach, if you don't have previous experience maneuvering one it can be more than a little overwhelming.Insurance Companies
Many RVs are nearly equal to an 18-wheeler in size. For this reason, several states require a non-commercial Class B license if you operate an RV over 40-feet long or 26,000-pounds. Besides state requirements and insurance incentives, you might just feel more comfortable navigating that amount of machinery in a variety of circumstances once you've had a few classes.
The best driving classes are similar to those for professional truck drivers. They often include how to make sure your RV is road-ready, RV driving, towing, RV and tire maintenance, fire safety, and how to handle your RV in many different situations like wet or icy conditions.
Several insurance companies offer RV driving courses to help people avoid accidents, and thereby reduce the financial risk to the company and the individual. Some even offer discounts on the policy upon verified completion.
Three of the most popular courses recommended by a variety of insurance providers include the following:
The amount of the discount depends on a number of factors in addition to the successful completion of one of these classes.
- AAA, which focuses on safety and defensive driving techniques.
- RV Safety and Education Foundation (RVSEF) covers basics, braking, tires, towing, and preventative maintenance.
- The Fire and Life Safety Program teaches about the different types of fires and fire extinguishers.
There are several RV clubs that include seminars or classes on ways to improve your driving techniques in their rallies. These are a few of the most popular:
Escapees RV Club: With 20 hours of instruction and several optional additions, the Escapees Boot Camp is about as inclusive as you're likely to find. Along with the basic course, which covers RV driving, tire safety, towing, and maintenance, to name a few, you can also take a fire safety course or receive personalized "in-your-RV" driver training. You also receive a copy of "The RVer's Ultimate Survival Guide" (CD version) on RV safety.
To make the information available to those unable to attend the Boot Camp in person, the club offers the RVers Online University (RVOU). Besides the traditional topics, new courses are being added regularly to keep up with the evolving needs of RVers.
Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA): Provided at the RV America Association Safe Driving Course, the six-hour class that is presented over two days focuses on backing up, towing, and what to do during a tire blow-out. It also has a section on sharing the road with truckers, which benefits drivers of both RVs and 18-wheelers.
RVing Women: With classes that run from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Central Tech Transportation and Safety Education Division of Central Technology Center near Tulsa, Oklahoma, instructions supplement the behind-the-wheel training provided. Topics include preventive maintenance and pre-trip vehicle inspection, trip planning and map reading, driving instructions, and tips to reduce driver exhaustion. RVing Women generally schedules this event every April.In Conclusion
Lastly, several motorhome manufacturers also offer classes, instructional videos, and/or hands-on training when you purchase a new RV or travel trailer from them. With so much responsibility behind the wheel, it's worth it to attend a class when and if the opportunity presents itself. Whether you're an experienced RVer or new to the captain's chair, there's always more recent information to learn, a skill to hone, or an emergency to avoid and prepare for. You won't regret it, and it just might save your life.