RV Spatial Awareness 101
Hitting the road with your RV for the first time is always an exciting endeavor. However, one important aspect of staying safe on the road is being aware of how much space your RV takes up, also known as spatial awareness.
If you’ve driven a car, you’ve developed spatial awareness — for that car. Now, with an RV hitched to it, that awareness must be readjusted.
Without setting aside adequate time to attune yourself to your RV’s size, you run the risk of damaging your prized possession, other people’s property, and/or causing injury.
In order to develop a sense of spatial awareness before you set off on your next adventure, it’s smart to complete the following exercises.
Find an empty lot. An empty parking lot is your best friend when you’re ready to practice driving your RV. Make sure there are no cars, people, poles or barricades around first!
Draw a line. In order to get a visual of just how much tail swing affects your driving, draw a line with chalk on the pavement along the side of your RV. While you watch from the rear, have another driver drive forward making as tight of a turn as possible. Repeat the test both to the left and right multiple times, paying attention to how far the RV swings away from the line. Then switch with the driver and practice yourself! That way, you’ll have a visual understanding of just how much space is needed to make a turn.
Look up. Now that you’ve got the turning portion down, it’s also important to know your RV’s clearance level. Each state marks the height of bridges and overpasses differently, so it’s important to vigilant about each bridge you must clear. Also pay attention to gas station canopies, banks, ATMs, and fast food drive-thrus, as they might be too low for your RV to clear. It’s a good idea to measure your RV from the highest rooftop item to the ground, write the measurement on a label, and stick the label to the top left corner inside your windshield.
Find a good spotter. Even the best spatial awareness is made even better with a spotter. When possible, designate a spotter among your travel buddies to make sure you and your rig are being as safe as possible.