Towing a trailer or driving a large motorhome is different than driving a compact automobile. The more proficient your driving skills and knowledge are, the more your confidence and abilities increase.
There are several driving techniques, mostly used to train professional drivers that cross over nicely in RV driver education. When you learn these simple techniques you become a better driver. As a matter of fact, just understanding the concept of these techniques can increase your driving ability significantly. Here are two important driving techniques every RV owner needs to understand.
The first technique is commonly referred to as your pivot point.
It doesn’t matter if you are driving a motorhome or towing a trailer, every vehicle has a pivot point. The pivot point is a fixed point on the vehicle at which the vehicle rotates around when making a turn. It sounds more complicated than it is. If it is a vehicle, like a truck or a motorhome with two axles the pivot point is the center of the rear axle. If it is a tandem axle, like a travel trailer or 5th wheel trailer the pivot point for the trailer is at the center of the two axles.
The important thing to remember about your pivot point is if an object, for example a gas pump, is located at the center of your pivot point or behind your pivot point you can turn in the direction of the object and not hit it. If on the other hand the object is ahead of the pivot point and you turn in the direction of the object you can hit it. This of course is dependent on the distance you are away from the object when you start making the turn.
The next technique is commonly referred to as tail swing.
Tail swing is the distance that the overhang, or the portion of the body that extends behind the pivot point, moves in the opposite direction you are turning in. In some cases it can be as much as 30 inches. This means if you are only parked 24 inches away from the concrete barrier at a gas pump and you turn away from the pump to exit the gas station tail swing can cause the RV to hit the concrete barrier.
Accidents like this happen every day. The first thing you need to do to avoid this is to know what your tail swing is. To do this park your motorhome or truck and trailer parallel alongside a straight line in an empty parking lot. Next, make a full lock turn in the direction opposite from the line and have someone measure the maximum distance the tail swings over the line as you slowly turn and drive away from the line. You will see the tail swing cross over the line. Take the measurement at the maximum point where the tail extends over the line. This is your tail swing, and it represents the distance you need to park away from an object to avoid hitting it as you turn and move away from the object.
Happy Camping,, Mark J. Polk, RV Education 101