driving1

My normal driving position in a lane. I like to leave room in case big winds start pushing me around!

 

What is it like to drive an RV?  That is a very popular question.  I see that as a google search that leads people to this blog.  My post on driving a class A RV was one of my more popular posts this year.

I have been driving a lot again lately.  We just drove from Duluth, across the top of Wisconsin, then thru Upper Michigan, and all the way down Michigan to our new campground just an hour away from the border of Indiana.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed something.  When I passed Semi-trucks I would see them pull all the way to the outside line.  When they passed me they also would be on the outside line.

That makes sense.  Two 8feet wide plus vehicles passing need a lot of room.

I remembered something a friend who had just graduated from truck driving school told me.  When you drive a big rig, the shoulder is part of the road.

Here is where things get interesting.  When I put my rear outside dually over or on the outside line, and the big rig puts his tires on the outside, all the wind buffeting stopped.

It gets even more interesting.  99.9% of all big rig drivers put their wheels on or over the outside line when passing other large vehicles.

After almost 3 years of RV living I am just noticing?

All the way on the outside line.

All the way on the outside line.

Here is what else I have observed.  80% of RVers try to hold the middle of the lane no matter what.   Local delivery box truck drivers have a tendency to ride the middle line like a car, and about half the passenger bus drivers I encounter ride the middle of the lane instead of the outside when passing.

Soon after I started driving my RV I quit hugging the divider line and concentrated on staying in the middle of my lane.  As soon as this happened you noticed the cars in other lanes quit driving on the outside!

As I became more experienced I started going more towards the outside when getting passed or passing big rigs.

Outside wheels are on the line - plenty of room to let the big rigs pass.

Outside wheels are on the line – plenty of room to let the big rigs pass.

Now that I know to be on or over the line, the entire driving process is so much smoother!

RVers commonly complain about being buffeted by winds from large passing vehicles.  People spend $1,000’s of dollars modifying their RVs to combat sway from getting passed.

All you need to do is pull over another few inches and all your problems are solved!

As soon as I hit my blinker to pass he went straight for the outside.

As soon as I hit my blinker to pass he went straight for the outside.

Another driving tip I wanted to mention was on setting speed with the cruise control.

I never really cared about speed until I hit Michigan’s crazy speed laws.  Cars do 70 and trucks do 60.  I was doing 62 a lot of the way, and by the time it was over I was doing 60.

Essentially what happens is if you go faster then the big rigs, you have to pass them.  Then you can’t stay at 62 because of the prolonged force of wind.  Its like Nascar, you start slingshoting, and then you hit a big wall of wind you have to push thru.  At some point you have to get off the cruise and drop the hammer to get clear.  By the time its over you have to do 70 just to clear the truck and get out of the way of all the cars backed up.

If I stayed at the speed of the big rigs I do not have to pass them.  Its not that passing them is hard, it just wastes a lot of gas and is annoying to all the other cars waiting for your slow RV to get out of the way!

My last tip is for hilly areas.  Even though the U.P. of Michigan is hilly, I still managed to get almost 9mpg.  I did this by ditching the cruise control on the hilly parts.

Essentially at the top of a hill I turned off the cruise, I would let my RV gain speed on the way day and I would even keep my foot on the gas.  I tried to keep the engine right at 2000-2200 rpm.

As I went up the hill I kept my foot on the gas.  All the excess speed would slowly bleed off and my speed was slowly dropping.  Because I kept my foot on the gas the engine slowed the deceleration process down enough I could maintain a good speed up the steep hills without having to gun the engine to get to the top.

I would start at about 60mph, gain momentum, and sometimes hit close to 70-75mph.  This didn’t hurt my mpg because the engine wasn’t revving to hit this speed.

If you would just go down and up the hill with cruise control, your cruise control would try and keep you close to the speed you set.  Then as you would go up the hill it wouldn’t give it gas until your speed slipped under your desired setting.

At that point its too late and the cruise has to rev the engine really hard to make it up the hill.

That is how you really end up wasting gas money.

Well I hope all this helped, leave a comment if you need anything clarified!

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