TRAVEL ALERTS: Know Before You Go Camping.  WINTER: Snowbird locations and overnight camping.

Tips for Safe RV Travel

Driving a motorhome or camper van is different from a car, truck or SUV. Depending on the size it can handle like a big rig truck and pulling a trailer behind a vehicle requires practice and teamwork. Know the overall size and weight of what you are driving and/or pulling as this may affect where you can travel.

Important considerations are to keep the RV between the highway/road lines (closer to the centre line is advised) and use gradual acceleration and braking.

If you are renting an RV and rental time permits and the dealer allows it, take a practice drive before leaving the lot. If you own an RV or trailer, take it out for a ‘reminder run’ before setting off on your trip. Find a parking lot to practice maneuvering and backing it up.

Other tips for safe RV travel:

  • Plan your trip wisely and allot time for fuel, bathroom/food and other necessary stops (such as dump and water stations or propane refills).
  • Very few RVs are meant for off-road driving; if a choice is available, stick to paved or semi-paved roads rather than navigating narrow, gravel or pebble-strewn roads. Some RV rental companies do not allow their units to travel on such roads, therefore check the fine print or ask before you set off.
  • If you rent an RV and something is not working, or you are uncomfortable with a feature or function while driving or parked review the handbook and/or call the dealership.
  • Take it slow, particularly when starting out with your RV. (It’s safer and better for fuel consumption as well!)
  • Close windows when in motion. This will help to improve the aerodynamics/fuel consumption and will keep the fumes outside and prevent dust from entering the vehicle/living area.
  • Adjust the convex wing mirrors on the vehicle, so both you and your co-pilot can see down the sides of your unit. These mirrors increase the field of vision, particularly in the blind spot area, and help to better see passing vehicles and tires in motion. Remember that things are closer than they appear, so don’t use convex mirrors to judge distance!
  • Maintain a greater distance from the vehicles in front of you than you would driving a car to allow for a safe braking distance and to give yourself time to react. Speed + weight = a longer time to stop!
  • Look out for impatient drivers around you.
  • Drive slowly over speed bumps and hit them straight on, meaning both wheels go over at the same time. If you drive over speed bumps on an angle, your wheels are slightly ahead of each another and the coach will rock side to side and back and forth.
  • Make wide turns (particularly right turns where curbs are nearby).
  • When parking in lots, head to the far end of the property if there are no RV or large truck parking bays. If the lot is too small or difficult to navigate (large speed bumps and entry dips may cause the RV to bottom out) find an area that better suits the unit.
  • Pay attention to the weather! Regularly visit or tune into Environment Canada for provincial updates for any weather alerts.
  • Get to know your RV and, especially if renting, be aware of your driving limitations.
  • Maintain your RV or tow vehicle and whether you own or rent, conduct a pre-trip inspection before you set out on the next journey.

TIPS TO BACK UP YOUR MOTORHOME

  • Have a co-pilot or passenger scan the campsite or area before backing up to ensure that you don’t run over or hit anything.
  • Make sure someone stands back slightly to the side of the RV when they help you to back it up.
  • Adjust your mirrors so they tilt down to see the lower rear corner of the unit.
  • Make sure that you can see the co-pilot in your side mirror.
  • Have your co-pilot use hand signals and roll down the windows to make sure you can hear them for verbal cues.
  • Back in slowly and carefully.

TIPS TO BACK UP YOUR TRAILER

  • Start with your vehicle and camper lined up straight.
  • Put your hands on the bottom of the steering wheel.
  • Have a co-pilot or passenger get out and scan the campsite or area before backing up to ensure that you don’t run over or hit anything.
  • Adjust your mirrors so they tilt down to see the lower rear corner of your trailer.
  • Have your co-pilot to the back slightly to the side of your vehicle to help back up the unit.
  • Make sure that you can see the co-pilot in your side mirror.
  • Have your co-pilot use hand signals and roll down the windows to make sure you can hear them for verbal cues.
  • Watch the rear of the trailer as you back up slowly.
  • To move the camper to the right, move your hands to the right.
  • To move the camper to the left, move your hands to the left.