Driv­ing Skills

RV Win­ter Driv­ing Re­minder

Snowbirds & RV Travelers - - Contents - By STEVE ROCK

DRIV­ING A COM­MER­CIAL VE­HI­CLE-SIZED RV through a Cana­dian win­ter to reach sun­nier climes can of­ten be stress­ful, but adopt­ing a pro­fes­sional at­ti­tude be­fore you turn the ig­ni­tion key will make a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence be­tween be­ing an av­er­age driver and be­ing a good driver. Be­ing a bet­ter driver, in turn, is bound to make a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence to the trip for you and your pas­sen­gers should bad weather hit.

The ve­hi­cle has been ser­viced, pos­ses­sions are packed, and the route dou­ble-checked, but are you ready to op­er­ate an RV in ad­verse con­di­tions? RV driv­ers can of­ten choose when to travel, but pro­fes­sional driv­ers don’t have that lux­ury and so they should be pre­pared to op­er­ate in all sit­u­a­tions, plus they have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to do it safely, as should you.

Thor­oughly cir­cle your RV and check for is­sues. It doesn’t mat­ter that it just came out of the shop, lights can blow, and oil leaks can oc­cur on even the most rig­or­ously main­tained ve­hi­cle at any time, so get in the habit of do­ing a daily un­der-hood check and walka­round. It’s a le­gal re­quire­ment for the pro­fes­sional driver, but for the RV driver, it helps to pro­tect your in­vest­ment.

Tires are of­ten forgotten, and it’s not so much the tread depth we’re con­cerned about, but more the tire type and op­er­at­ing pres­sure. Pres­sures change with am­bi­ent air tem­per­a­tures -roughly 1psi for ev­ery 10°F, so it’s im­por­tant to check them sev­eral times dur­ing the trip, as un­der and over-in­flated tires can se­ri­ously af­fect the ve­hi­cle’s brak­ing and han­dling ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Also, re­mem­ber that even though snow tires are avail­able, most RV’s are fit­ted with high­way (sum­mer) tires that don’t have a win­ter tread pat­tern or com­pound, which makes them un­suit­able for driv­ing on snow and ice.

Most com­mer­cial trucks don’t have snow tires ei­ther, but they do have a weight ad­van­tage. Be­ing heav­ier en­ables the ve­hi­cle to bite down through the snow to find trac­tion. This is great to get go­ing, but un­for­tu­nately, it’s a sig­nif­i­cant dis­ad­van­tage when it comes to cor­ner­ing or stop­ping when in­er­tia usu­ally over­pow­ers the capability of the sum­mer rub­ber. Your sav­ing grace here is to em­ploy de­fen­sive driv­ing tech­niques; truck­ers that are pi­lot­ing an 80,000-pound rig can’t stop on a dime in the best of con­di­tions and need to drive de­fen­sively to re­main in com­plete con­trol of the ve­hi­cle. Us­ing your wealth of driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, you know that the green light ahead will soon be chang­ing to red, and you can also ‘read’ the ac­tions of other mo­torists around you, en­abling you to ad­just your driv­ing ac­cord­ingly and in plenty of time. Smooth and steady steering, ac­cel­er­a­tion, and brak­ing are es­sen­tial to keep a large ve­hi­cle un­der con­trol in ad­verse con­di­tions.

Good all-around ob­ser­va­tion is also es­sen­tial, and the mir­rors should be kept clean and set cor­rectly to achieve this. A small spray bot­tle of wind­shield washer fluid and a squeegee will keep the muck off, and you should make mir­ror ad­just­ments so that you can see what’s go­ing on be­hind and along­side you. If there’s more than a small strip of sky along the top of the mir­ror or more than a tiny col­umn of ve­hi­cle vis­i­ble on the in­side edge, then the mir­rors aren’t set quite right. You’ll never elim­i­nate the ve­hi­cle’s blind-spots, but cor­rect mir­ror ad­just­ment will go a long way to re­duc­ing them.

Noth­ing is ever guar­an­teed, but care­ful prepa­ra­tion, a pa­tient, pro­fes­sional at­ti­tude, com­bined with smooth and steady driv­ing should en­sure your RV trip through an­other Cana­dian win­ter is an un­event­ful one, and that your knuck­les aren’t as white as the snow you’ve just driven through when you reach your des­ti­na­tion.

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