RV Driving Tips
- Written by Gary the RV Guy
Do you know how to set Your Mirrors?
We see so many RV mirrors that are totally out of adjustment that I want to review the purpose of the two-part mirror system. Remember, if your mirrors are not set correctly, YOU ARE DRIVING BLIND!
The purpose of the FLAT MIRROR, on top is to see alongside and behind your vehicle up to 200 feet. This is also the mirror you use when you’re backing, looking to the furthest point, watching to see if you’re moving in or away from your backing line.
The purpose of the CONVEX MIRROR, on the bottom is to see alongside your vehicle and all the way to the back and twelve feet out on both sides . If the convex mirrors are not set so you see all the way to the back of the vehicle and alongside, you will be hitting something because it will be in your Blind Spot!
The purpose of your camera is to open-up the Blind Spot that is directly behind your RV and should be set so you can see what is directly behind you and back to a spot without hitting it.
Convex Mirrors Flat Mirrors
- Written by Gary the RV Guy
All commercial drivers are advised to always use 'Three Points of Contact' when entering or exiting their vehicles.
The reason is to make sure that they will not slip or fall out of the vehicle. I have seen a number of instances where people have fallen out of their RV’s or Mobile Clinics as a result of NOT using the Three Point rule, including my sister-in-law just this past week. She tripped on the top stair and fell through the RV screen door onto the cement, landing on her wrists and head. Luckily she was NOT seriously injured and other than two sprained wrists, a black eye and a few bruises she is OK. It could have been MUCH worse!
Last summer, our daughter fractured four ribs while exiting a trailer. The pull-out stairs were in use along with a small plastic stool, placed at the base. With both arms wrapped around a young child, she stepped onto the stool, which rocked, causing her to lose balance and fall back onto the edge of the metal stairs. OUCH!! Six week of her summer vacation spent recovering. The take-away is always have one hand free to help keep your balance.
Please make sure that all visitors to your coach or trailer ALWAYS use the hand rail and are aware of the dangers associated with entering and exiting an RV. Don’t let inattention spoil your fun.
- Written by Gary Lewis the RV Guy
Of the many skills we teach new RV drivers, two of the most important are 'Mirror Use' and 'Pivot Point'. For the non-commercial Class A & B license in California one of the skills you must demonstrate to the examiner is the '90 degree Off-set Alley Dock Backing'. The DMV gives you a 12 foot by 40 foot box that they want you to back your RV or Trailer into from a position that is parallel to a line 50 feet from the opening of the box.
Imagine trying to do this if your mirrors are NOT set correctly or if you do NOT understand the Pivot Point of your RV, IMPOSSIBLE!
We have posted a video of a recent student showing how this backing up skill should be completed.
- Written by Gary the RV Guy
There is SO much misinformation about who needs a Non-commercial Class B License and what is involved that we thought it’s time to clarify the process. What follows is ONLY for California.
WHO NEEDS A NON-COMMERCIAL LICENSE?
Anyone driving a 45' Motorhome (Greater than 40' up to 45')
By definition, a 45’ Motorhome refers to a single-unit motorhome that is longer than 40 feet but no more than 45 feet. (Note: A vehicle combination, e.g. a motorhome towing a vehicle or trailer, may be up to 65 feet in length. If the single-unit motorhome is 40 feet or less in length, the combination is NOT subject to the route restriction for the 45’ motorhome and the driver DOES NOT require a special license)
Motorhome: A motorhome is a noncommercial passenger vehicle defined in the California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 465 as a “house car” and commonly referred to as a recreation vehicle, “a motor vehicle originally designed, or permanently altered, and equipped for human habitation, or to which a camper has been permanently attached.” A motorhome should not be confused with a bus or a tour bus, also called “motorcoach” which is used for commercial passenger transportation and requires a commercial Class B driver’s license to operate.
HOW DO I OBTAIN A NON-COM CLASS B LICENSE?
Note: For the noncommercial Class B license you are NOT required to present your Passport, Birth Certificate and Proof of Residency, this is only required for the full Class B license.
To obtain an original noncommercial Class B license – you must:
1. Pass the Driver's Examination for 45' Housecars law test. You must pass the law test based on the information contained in the Non-Commercial Handbook. The test may be taken at any DMV field office. You may make an appointment online at www.dmv.ca.gov, or by calling 1-800-777-0133.
2. Vehicle safety check. Before the skills test, you must demonstrate that the turn signals, brake lights, horn, emergency flashers, and brake system are working. This is not part of your pre-trip test. However, if any of these items are not working properly or are missing; your driving test will be postponed.
3. Skills tests. Skills tests are designed to demonstrate your skill in stopping, backing in a straight line, completing a right turn around a cone or marker, and backing into a camping space.
4. Driving test. The driving test includes entering and exiting a freeway, freeway driving with lane changes, right and left turns into one-way and two-way traffic, railroad crossings, driving on a grade or steep hill, etc. You may make an appointment by calling 1-800-777-0133. Online appointments are not available for this type of driving test.
5. Physician's Health Report. A Physician's Health Report (DL 546A) (PDF) form signed by your physician is required and must be given to DMV for review and approval before your license is issued and then every two years after that. The Health Report expires two years from the examination date. Failure to maintain a valid Health Report form with DMV will mean that your license is valid only for Class C and, if endorsed, for Class M1 or M2 vehicles. Health Report forms are available online at www.dmv.ca.gov.
45' Housecar with Air Brakes
You are not required to pass an air brake law test or to perform an air brake system check if your housecar is equipped with air brakes. You will be asked to perform a Vehicle Safety Check by the DMV examiner.
Be aware that you may get a blank stare when you go to your neighborhood DMV office asking to apply for the noncommercial license as this is NOT something most offices process every day. For this reason you will find it less frustrating to go to one of the DMV’s Commercial Testing Centers to begin the process.
RV Basic Training can help and will be happy to provide you with the forms you require to get started. Once you have your permit, your Housecar Boot Camp will get you ready for your California Housecar License.
Gary the RV Guy