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Good preparation is needed for a vacation in a moving home

Jun 2022

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Driving a motor home safely

A home on wheels, as well as being longer, wider and taller, is significantly heavier than a normal car, and so behaves differently when being driven. “This can lead to miscalculations and critical situations on the road,” cautions Luigi Ancona, DEKRA accident researcher. “Due to the vehicle’s larger dimensions extra care should be taken, particularly when maneuvering. It is advisable to pull out more widely when taking tight corners,” says the expert. “Motor home drivers also need to have a clear idea of the height of their vehicle and be aware of height specifications so that underpasses, bridges, and parking garage entrances do not become a problem.”

It is a good idea, especially for those who only drive their motor homes occasionally, to spend some time getting familiarized with the vehicle before setting off, ideally by undertaking specialized driver safety training. Drivers need to allow for a longer braking distance than with a regular car. They also need to get used to a higher center of gravity, which means cornering speeds need to be lower and quick evasive maneuvers are more difficult. As motor homes accelerate a lot more slowly, the expert advises against passing other vehicles on single-lane roads as a matter of principle.

Motor homes also have a large surface area for cross winds to catch. A motor home can be thrown off track by just one strong gust of wind in an exposed area or the sudden change in wind conditions when passing another vehicle. “The best way to handle cross winds is to hold the wheel tightly, come off the gas, and brake carefully. Generally speaking, both hands should be on the wheel at all times,” advises Ancona.

Steep slopes can often be a challenge too. When driving uphill, it is advisable to shift to a lower gear early on. When going downhill, the braking effect of a lower gear should be used to protect the brakes. In vehicles with automatic transmissions, manual mode should be used. If the braking effect decreases due to overheating, a break should be taken immediately. Under certain circumstances it might be best to avoid overly steep routes. If the vehicle is equipped with a hill descent control system, it is essential that the driver studies the operating instructions and finds out about the special features of the respective system before setting off.

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