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Any Women Class A Drivers?


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#1 romanpaula

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 08:50 AM

I need your Class A driving tips as I consider learning to drive our Class A. Not only driving tips are needed, but maintaining it, setting it up, towing, and breaking it down at departure time.

I know nothing about it mechanically speaking, I was formally only 'in charge' of the microwave and meal planning, now due to husband's surgery, I will become the driver. I don't even know how the heat/air works or the slides and just the name of the (black/grey) water scares me! Your suggestions, ideas would be very helpful to me. My husband can provide some guidance but the work and the driving will be on me.

Are there any statistics on the percentage of women Class A drivers?

I need your best tips/information! Where do I start? We will have to list it for sale if I can't figure it out and I would like to at least give it a try.

Thank you.
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#2 LivingLikeEachDayIsMyLast

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 10:07 AM

My wife has driven our 33' Southwind a few times.She drives it very well I think, although I get a little nervous if I'm riding with her down a busy interstate with traffic passing on both sides. Setup at the park is fairly simple & she has watched me do it a hundred times. I'll give you a laymans list of how we setup.

First of all, a pull through site is much easier than a back-in site if you are not experienced in backing your rig.Just remember to use your mirrors when driving or backing the rig.Most people at a campground will gladly assist you in backing your rig into a parking site.

#1 - Get the rig parked,being careful that trees or post etc. are not in the way of your slide outs.Also make sure nothing is in the way of lowering your awning. You shouldn't have to worry too much about the position of the water and power supply as you should have ample reach from your water hose & power cord.

#2 - Once you have the rig in a good overall position for all hookups,apply your parking brake & start up your leveling system.Your owners manual will explain in detail how to level the rig.

#3 - Plug in to the power pole making sure the breaker switches are turned on.


#4 - Hook up your water hose through a regulator if you have one & turn the water on.

#5 - If there is a sewer connection at the site, hook the sewer hose to it & your rig.

#6 - Lower your awning if you desire.

#7 - Inside the rig,cut on the propane safety switch,start your hotwater heater,make sure the fridge is on,bleed the faucets of entrapped air.

#8 - Sit down,take a breather look over your setup check list for anything you may have forgotten.


Note: It is important that you read & remember your owners manuals until you are familiar with your rig. I haven't posted every single thing in detail that needs to be done,I or any others here will be happy to answer all of your questions.

Have a great camping day!
Wayne & Deborah
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#3 lottomega314

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 03:30 PM

Please keep us informed on how you do. I took the driving class at Lazydays here in FL. The driving was great in the park. But on the interstate I have not tried yet. Tractor trailers frighten me passing when I am in the Passenger's seat.I do think all women need to know how to set up and drive the motor homes they have.

Good Luck.
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#4 pianodan

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 04:58 PM

Please keep us informed on how you do. I took the driving class at Lazydays here in FL. The driving was great in the park. But on the interstate I have not tried yet. Tractor trailers frighten me passing when I am in the Passenger's seat.I do think all women need to know how to set up and drive the motor homes they have.

Good Luck.

My wife has driven our 35' rig a lot. When we travel across country she drives as much as I do. She prefers me to drive in the congested city areas and over the mountain passes though.

I teach motorcycle safety in the spring/summer/fall and we reserve a campsite near the college that I teach at. I go early on Friday to teach the classroom, and after she gets off work, she drives the motorhome with the 13' motorcycle trailer behind and does all the setup and hookups herself. By the time I get there around 10pm, there's not a whole lot that I have to do.

My wife says it's her motorhome anyway.
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#5 Howde

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 05:36 PM

I took the RV driving class at LazyDays, Sefner, FL, with my husband. I have driven on smaller 4 lane highways but not the interstate. Most of what you learn from the class is online on videos at http://betterrving.c...ps&fSearch=true They teach you how to turn, back in, mark your mirrors, etc. Very, very helpful!
They also have many videos and tips on RV care. So far this is the best I have found online. Last spring when we took this class they mentioned they might be taking their courses on the road so you might contact them to see if there is one coming near you. Safe travels!
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#6 pattie1tom

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Posted 06 April 2011 - 08:09 PM

We just traded a 30 foot class B plus that I would drive often and sometimes by myself with my daughters for a class A and the difference in driving it is significant. I find the wind and big trucks push and pull it around the road a lot, especially when travelling interstates at top speed. Although I don't have advice yet, I will keep watch on the post for advice on maintaining stability through wind and trucks.

Best Wishes and see you on the road.
Pattie
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#7 Shields

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 12:03 AM

Yes, yes, yes . . . you can do it. My sister (who previously never drove anything bigger than a VW) drove our 40' Class A over 1,000 miles on our cross-country last year. By the end of the trip she was parking, and handling traffic like a pro. Just find a big parking lot and some lonely roads to get comfortable with it. Also, there are some good videos such as "Drive your RV Like a Pro" that might help.

Finally, most cities have lots of women school bus drivers. They may be able to work with you on weekends to develop your skills and confidence.

Good Luck!

Tim
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#8 rhuffhines

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 07:59 AM

Yes - I know you can do it. when buying our first Class A my wife was required to drive it off the lot and accept some driving responsiblities. She did great. Whenever we have to back into a overnite space- I am the spotter and she backs it in.

We recently bought a new Class A and she has watched all the operations needed to operate- even the toad.

There is a learning curve and it helps to know how things work- but ask on this forum and someone will set forward to help.

Good luck and see you down the Road

Robert
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#9 WalterC

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 09:27 AM

There are education programs available through our organization RV Safety & Education Foundation.

Some are provided during FMCA convention and others are available through out the country.

Please contact us through www.rvsafety.com for information
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#10 Guest_BillAdams_*

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 09:34 AM

A great way to learn Interstate driving is to have someone comfortable with this type of driving take you out on the Interstate and pull into a rest area. Getting on the Interstate is very easy from here and you can drive until the next rest area or as long as you like. You will get very comfortable very quickly as you realize there's nothing real special about it except that you need to pay attention ahead and behind so you are not surprised by upcoming events ahead of you or an unexpected pass by a tractor-trailer from behind. The rest of the time it's just about like driving a car on the Interstate.

#11 LivingLikeEachDayIsMyLast

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 10:57 AM

Depending on how your mirrors are set up,sometimes a small car passing on your right will be out of view. Many class A homes such as mine has a small glass at the floor level on the right side. This will enable you to see a car out of view in your mirrors. Sometimes it is hectic even for me while driving on the interstate through the Atlanta,Ga. bypass. Everyone is driving twenty mph over the speed limit & many have very little respect even for a large class A motorhome. Sometimes making a lane change is nearly impossible.

Take your time, keep an eye on your rear view camera monitor, both sets of mirrors & your little right side window especially if you're driving in the center lane on the interstate. I don't drive in the center lane normally, but it's necessary sometimes as I need plenty of time to decipher where the next exit gets off.

My better half does quite well if I,in the passenger seat, help her spot traffic when she is ready to make a lane change.

Of course driving on the open interstate is much easier. Also driving on two lane scenic roads has it's on set of things to watch. Most two lane roads now have a painted line near the edge of the road. By watching that line in your lower right hand mirror you can keep the rig from dropping off the edge of the road. As with any vehicle,if the rig drops off the right side of the road, do not jerk back to the left.Stay straight and ease back on the road.

I have been driving a class a since 1980 and no accidents yet. I am getting older though, so even I have to be more careful. At some point in time the wife will become the full time driver as we don't plan on giving up our travels any time soon.

Have a great camping day! Wayne & Deborah
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#12 rrlowther

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 01:42 PM

We recently purchased a 40' diesel pusher for our work/business. So we are learning too. My Partner is not a big vehicle driver at all. First thing I would share with you is.... RELAX! Go slow, take your time. Don't worry about slowing traffic a little bit. Use your mirrors and your back up camera. Have someone drive your coach to a large parking lot. Take a couple of hours and just get familiar with how it handles how it turns how it stops and so on. Once your comfortable, then take it on the road a little bit. Around the block of the parking lot you are practicing in for example.

As for the systems, (Fortunately for me), they all seem to be pretty intuitive. In most cases if you do something wrong the coach will tell you. And as some of the other posts stated, read your manuals. Ask questions. No shame in not knowing.

If you have the nerve to ask for help you have the capacity to learn. :) Safe travels.
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#13 melmoses

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Posted 15 April 2011 - 10:20 AM

I drive our motorhome, a 40' diesel pusher, about half the time. I learned through (forcing myself to do it) practice. We use radios to communicate when backing. I started by learning on the interstate just as mentioned before. He pulled into a rest area and we swapped places. I drove, thinking I was going to pull over at the next one but I got comfortable pretty quickly so I kept on driving. Then I moved on to the 4-lane roads, then 2-lane. I learned to watch my rear - that tail swing can get you in trouble - by practicing in parking lots like Wal-mart and I also learned where the front in really is the same way. We took orange cones to a parking lot and I practiced until I was comfortable and had marked my spots on the dash for the front, camera for the back. I found that at nearly every campground someone is there willing to help. My first backing experience nearly gave me a heart attack on the spot. I moved by inches but I had watched a video on where to line up online with the corner ten feet from the rear. I did it! Man was I excited - I hadn't wiped out anything, anyone or our coach. It took forever but no one said a thing! Just helped me out. Once you learn to drive, you will wonder why you didn't do it earlier because it really is a fun experience.

I also learned to operate the systems, they are really easy to learn. Now we share the duties but I could do it by myself if need be. You will do fine! Just ask a neighbor, they will help you figure it out if you have any problems.
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#14 chucknewman

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 07:08 PM

romanpaula,

Congratulations on taking the plunge to drive your motorhome. Yes, you can do it just fine. I've driven everything on the road safely since 1962, but I'm a lousy instructor. We are sitting in a rest stop in Alabama and I already have seen several women drivers of 18 wheelers. And they are driving well. I'm sure they had butterflies in the beginning just as I did when your actually moving and controlling several tons of mass down the road for the first time. That said, I can offer several basic tips.

Just about all the above posted information is accurate and recommended so I won't repeat it. But a few basics to keep in mind when driving. Have you ever driven a van? A class A motorhome is basically just a big van. It's longer, wider, and heavier. With that in mind always remember:

1. Depending on the length and wheelbase of your MH, you will need to pull farther forward to clear an object you are turning around; like a curb, stop sign or lamp post.

2. Your MH is much heavier than a van or car, so it will not slow down or speed up as quickly as a van or car. You have to scan the road and plan your moves considerably farther down the road in a MH than you do in a van or car. The larger and heavier the vehicle you are driving, the farther you need to scan the road for potential problems.

3. And your MH is wider that a car. You will learn quickly you need to place yourself in the driver seat a little more toward the left side of a lane than you would for a narrower vehicle. If you place yourself in the same area of a lane with the MH as you would your tow vehicle, you will continually be driving on the fog line. That's not a really bad thing; that is until you come upon Interstate construction with concrete barriers where the fog line used to be. Develop good habits early in your practice sessions.

4. Always remember you will drive where you look. If you focus on the center line or the fog line you will drive onto it. If you focus too long in either rear mirror you will drift in that direction. This has been known for decades and professional truck/bus drivers have learned to consciously avoid when scanning side mirrors of their vehicles. With practice, you can do the same. Remember, instead of driving a 6 or 6.5 foot wide vehicle you now are driving a 8.5 foot wide vehicle and you have much less "wiggle room" in the lane. Especially 2 lane roads.

5. That said, you should check each mirror every 5 to 7 seconds. Don't focus on it more than 1 second; which is longer than most folks realize. Actually look at the mirror and mentally say "one thousand one" then eyes back to the road. The same with the other mirror. As you practice this exercise you will begin to note in 1 second you can see the status of your vehicle side, lane placement, vehicles on your side and to your rear. As noted in an above post, it is extremely important to know what is going on around you at all times.

6. Driving a large vehicle is enjoyable, but it is not the time to relax as you may in the family SUV. In fact, the same mileage in our motorhome or bus is much less stressful that the same mileage in our van. I've done both. But driving a large and heavey vehicle demands a greater attention to driving than a typical car. Some find this easier than others, but you must see the "big picture" around you and far down the road at the same time to allow for reaction and/or stopping time necessary to avoid problems on the road.

7. This is true for motorcycles or big rigs; always drive as if most other drivers on the road don't see you. Because in reality, regardless of vehicle size you are in, a too high percentage of other drivers don't notice you until it's too late. You have to be proactive and defensive in large vehicle driving.

This is basic stuff, but I'm seeing the results of it not being stressed in on-road driver training. Even with some newer truck drivers. Sure, you learn by doing, and we all make mistakes, but we get better at anything only if you learn by and make a concerted attempt to not repeat your mistakes.

I think a question about cross winds came up somewhere in the thread. Wind affects vehicles based on their weight, height, shape, ground clearance, and chassis design. Our Safari with a 30,000lb Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) is much more difficult to control in windy conditions than our 40,000lb GVW bus. And that with $7,000. of steering and stabilizing enhancements installed on the MH. It is much more stable than it was, but the primary problem is a lighter front end, and the MH having considerably more ground clearance than the bus. So the wind is not only pushing on the MH but is lifting the MH to some extent -- both reducing stability in that condition. With little or no wind, it drives great. But I like the fact I can get under it easily when I want too, compared with a low clearance vehicle with several safety issues crawling under it.

The point I was trying to make above is no matter what MH or chassis you have, most can be stabilized more to some extent. It really comes down to your driving preferences and compromises (size, money, etc.) you're willing to make.

And always remember you're not in the family sedan or SUV. Large vehicles take alertness and awareness all the time when moving. But absolutely, yes you can do it as well as anyone else.

Good luck in your new venture.

Chuck
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#15 MikeCanter

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 09:23 AM

My wife takes turn driving our 44 foot, 48,000lb Monaco Signature with a Jeep Wrangler on the back all the time so I can lay on the couch and watch TV. She has driven in town some but not much. I try not to schedule the driving rotation so she would end up driving in town. She can and has no problem doing it but hates turning tight corners at intersections (who doesn't). She has never taken a driving course and that would be good for her.
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#16 skyking8

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 10:41 AM

Unlike my wife who can do it all, I have friends whose wives will not drive the RV and few participate in the set-up/tear down process. One of these days they are going to experience the harsh reality that you did. Perhaps your situation and post will convince other ladies of that truth. It is better to learn slowly over time than to be forced to do so all at once.

The fact that you ask for help means that you will do just fine. Take your time, but know that you will make mistakes. That is a non-gender given. Just be wise enough not to make the same one twice and even then try to make them cheap ones. :)

One of the other posters mentioned pulling forward when turning. That is really important because you sit in front of the wheels on a DP. I suggest lotsa practice in a parking lot with an experienced RV driver helping you. I would also highly recommend that you make yourself a written checklist for doing "stuff." Even experienced RVers use them.

Just so as to be an equal opportunity critic....Men pick up a skillet and start cooking for yourselves once in awhile. You may need that one day, too.
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#17 Jackhal49

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 05:09 PM

My wife learned to drive our 34' Winnebago Journey last spring when I fell off a ladder and broke my right foot. We hired a truck driving instructor and he gave her a four hour lesson and by the time she was through she could drive the MH like a pro. Now when we travel she does half the driving which makes it so easy on the both of us. Check this website out as it has some excellent driving trips http://betterrving.c...or_High_Quality .

Learning to use your mirrors is so important as the one of the videos on that website tells you. As far as all the systems on the MH read and re-read your owners manuals they will help you out a lot. You could also go to a MH dealer and have them show you how the appliances and other systems work. If you have more questions ask them at this forum and also check out www.rv.com this site also has lots of good information and people who will help you out. Good Luck and hope you husband gets well soon.
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#18 paulcarson

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 07:23 AM

#3 - Plug in to the power pole making sure the breaker switches are turned on.

Should the breakers be in the off position before plugging in? That is what I have always been told...
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#19 wolfe10

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 07:51 AM

Should the breakers be in the off position before plugging in? That is what I have always been told...

YES. The breaker in the CG pedestal should be OFF before plugging in. Then turn it ON after plugging in.

If you have the breaker on when you plug in, you will arc and burn the tips of your shore power cord. They were not meant to serve as a "switch".

Brett
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#20 luv2trav

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 06:24 PM

Thanks for all the tips!! While I have driven the MH for short bursts on the Interstate, I really need to step up and start doing more driving. My biggest problem (read fear) is not the length of the coach but the width. I am always afraid that I am not going to stay in my lane. I guess I need practice and more practice :)
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