You need to learn the exact space your RV requires and use these for several maneuvers. You are likely driving a rig larger than anything in your past. Even if you drove a truck (semi tractor/trailer), that vehicle was hinged—up near the front—your motorhome is not. Bus driver training is the only help for motorhome driving. Learning to maneuver and manipulate your motorhome is easy and fun to do. You will need five things…
- your co-pilot
- your rv
- a large, empty parking lot (typical church parking lot on Tuesday morning)
- a tape measure
- a couple of hours
Do this easy exercise and you will know more about your coach than you thought possible and be a much better, safer driver!
Find Your U-turn Space
At some point, you will likely have to make a U-turn (a “get out” maneuver). For example, assume you turned into a blind parking lot (you could not see all the exits nor available space before entering). Now you have to get out.
[Author Note… Be sure to read the article entitled “Measuring Overswing” prior to calculating your U-turn space.]
To do this, go back to that church parking lot that we have recommended, position your coach to learn exactly what space you need to make a U-turn. You will need lots of maneuvering room for this exercise.
- First, pull way over to the right side of the parking lot so you have room for the maneuver.
- With the drive wheels straight, set a cone (rock, can, marker, etc.) next to the front, passenger-side wheel.
- Next, move that cone away from the RV—parallel to and straight out from the axle—a distance equal to your overswing.
- Put the parking brake on. With engine running, turn your wheels maximum left. Release the brake and start your turn. Keep those wheels turned maximum left. Slowly creep through the U-turn.
- Complete the U-turn. When the rear, passenger-side wheel is the maximum distance from where you started (180 degrees)—directly across from where you marked the front passenger-side wheel at the start of the turn—then set another marker beside rear, passenger-side wheel.
- Move the coach out of the way being careful not to move the markers and measure from marker to marker.
What Is It
This will be the absolute minimum distance you need to U-turn your coach. Don’t assume your U-turn is just based on your coach’s turning radius because it always includes your overswing on the initial side of the turn. Just think, suppose you pulled in next to a building that was extremely close to the right side. You would require overswing room to make the U-turn. Therefore, the overswing distance must be calculated into the U-turn space.
Also, don’t assume you can just unhook the toad and easily get out—your required U-turn space does not change when towing. The next time you enter a really tight, blind parking lot, if necessary, you can physically measure the U-turn space you need. It works.