Precautions, tips and rules for travelling by motorhome.
It may sound obvious, but driving a motorhome correctly means performing a few actions before departure, in order to travel safely and with peace of mind. Here are all the essential tips.
Before going with your motorhome, a few unmissable actions need to be taken for a safe journey. It may sound obvious, but checking that all openings (door, windows, skylights) are closed, for example, and that steps are folded and the gas tap is locked, should become an automatic procedure in the daily routine of motorhome travellers.
Ensure the best possible visibility, carefully positioning the rear view mirrors and getting familiar with the side views, as sometimes there can be a blind spot: you may need the help of your passengers around particular crossroads or incoming lanes.
Order on board
Ensure that inside doors and cupboards are closed tight and there are no objects that may fall down: a glass on the table or kitchen top, a book on the shelves or by the edge of the bed will fall at the first road bend!
Also check the fridge door, usually heavy with bottles, ensuring that is fitted with the safety fastener: if not, as well as getting wide open - and damaging the hinges - it will spill all the fridge contents to the floor. This applies no matter where the fridge is installed, but particularly so if it is in a high position or at the rear of the vehicle, where braking will get it wide open if it is not properly closed.
Space and clutter
Once on the road, you need to be aware of the size of the vehicle you are driving. Hence: keep the size of your motorhome in mind (you will find the details on your logbook), note them on a paper that you can keep at hand, near the driving wheel (this will avoid you embarrassingly checking it just before a low bridge, maybe with a traffic queue behind you).
- Motorhome height:
usually around three metres (and above for top cab coachbuilts), hence you need to pay attention to those obstacles you would not normally notice in a car, so for example balconies, cables, protrusions, branches (which are never flagged!), etc.
- Motorhome width:
it is usually greater on the rear than by the driving cab (not for RVs), and must be assessed carefully. The rear view mirrors can be a good reference point, if they go through, then the entire vehicle width will make it through, as long as it is on a straight line.
when moving lanes after overtaking, when reversing and manoeuvring, you need to keep an eye on the length, even better if some one is also checking it from the back window for you; pay particular attention to the top (lamp posts, trees) and bottom, where often small obstacles, like fences covered by plants, may create problems.
The back of the vehicle, particularly if it has an overhang, will need your attention.
Seats and safety
Fasten your safety belts. All passengers must fasten their seat belts, and they need to take the seats set out by the manufacturer, as they are laid out in the passenger compartment and illustrated in the log book.
Adapt your driving style to the highway code (respecting road signs, aligning to the rules of the countries you visit), the size of your motorhome and its performance.
Watch out for gusts of wind: they can cause dangerous skidding as they hit the large side walls; this can also happen when overtaking larger vehicles, such as lorries and tourist coaches.
During your journey, remember that a short stop will enable you to quickly recover your energy and focus, also thanks to the on-board comfort of your motorhome. It is not wise to move around on board while driving: better to alert the driver and take a short stop, shake your legs and enjoy the view.