Sunday, February 10, 2013

Driving RV Big Rigs and Not so Big on The Highway... A Few Words...

A rambling, windy, disjointed, RVing Cowboy Soapbox Sermon on RV Driving Safety; Or... My opinion of how to get your rig from here to there with out breaking the fiberglass while achieving a more harmonious outcome...

... as well as a bit of a verbal spanking for a few RVers and other motorized transportation operators seen along the way.

Have any of you ever followed the Wagon Teamster? He's a guy that does his yondering by way of a team of horses and a wagon.

He ended his first trip a few years back in critical condition, in the hospital, in the deep south, after leaving from New Hampshire I believe. Two of his horses were killed instantly in the wreck that nearly killed him when a semi blew into his outfit; In spite of it being festooned with lights and signs...

His fourth trip ended in the late fall after what he terms a "Minor Fender Bender" in Lake Havasu. This time, damage to his wagon was minimal and his horses apparently escaped unscathed... but still, due to the ... uh... how can I say this nicely... un-attention of another Driver...  a little old lady in a car.

He got himself, his horses and his rig hauled to the place of a friend up in Oregon to lay up for a bit and gauge the future I expect.

Now... you say; Why should I be concerned 'bout some eccentric old guy wandering around the highways with horses and a wagon? What's he got to do with Motorized wandering?

Cuz boys and girls... What's happened to him kinda shines a lite on the rest of us... a light that lots of times gets overlooked by ignorance and... uh huh... ego!

The rigs most of us drive are bigger, wider and heavier than what Bob Skelding is drivin'. Though we move a lil' closer to traffic speed we're still usually significantly slower and especially so when the road gets twisty and steep.

... and then some of us :-/ go whistlin' across the asphalt waaaaaaaayyyyyy too fast for our either our abilities or the capabilities of our rigs! I know you THINK you're as good as you ever were... but sorry son... at 60, 65 or 73? You might still could be spry and healthy... but your eyes, your hearing and your reaction time ain't a sliver of what they were when you were 22.

Drive within your ability... (and be honest about THAT) Don't even try to sell me the baloney that at 68 you can still shove that RV Whale down the road at 78 mph. Park your ego and accept aging with a lil' more humility.

It makes me cringe when a rig goes whistlin' past me on the road... only to see the guy drivin' it come hobblin' out of the gas station rest room ten miles up the road... bent over and almost unable to walk back to the rig, even if he could see it through the wire rimmed coke bottle lenses he's peering through.

... and if you try to strike up a conversation? "Hey, how ya doin' old timer?"

"It's the green one!... I need to burp... where's my waffles?" he replies... ??? Grrrrreat... Sharp as a tack... and he's drivin' a 45 foot wide bodied boat. Suh-wheet. Gives me a wonderful sense of confidence.

Slow the hell down! Have some respect for the other people out there; and remember, no matter how quickly we THINK we're moving, most of the time, compared to corollas and yamahas, we're still operating rolling RV road blocks on the highway. Slow down and that tunnel vision will open up and the trip will be a lot more memorable.

There's a few other things we can do to mitigate the inconvenience we impose on the other folks by our size. They have an equal right to be out there on the road. A few things we should do to behave with a lil' proper respect.

There are also a few harsh realities we simply have no choice but to accept.

To mitigate our obstruction;

1. Pay attention! Don't pull out of that roadside gift shop in front of a long string of cars... when it can be Clearly Seen that the road is wide open behind them... Why do you do that??? only to putter along at 30mph less than they're moving, growling that; "I'm 65 years old by God and It's my right to be on the road!"

Is it your right to stick your foot out and trip the kid walking past your booth in the Denny's? No? Well, that's effectively what you're doing when you fling your 25,000 pound rig out in front of those cars.

Let the traffic pass and THEN pull out in that wide open hole between slugs of traffic. They'll be happier... you'll be happier and the stress level 'tween you and the navigators chair will be a lot more pleasant.

2. Keep an eye on your mirrors. Don't get lazy. Stay aware of what's around you. Keep your eyes scanning. When you're on the two lane there's a couple of things you can do to make the run a lot easier on everyone.

First, as soon as you stack up a couple of cars behind you, get on the lookout for a wide spot where you can not only pull over to let traffic clear... but that will also allow you to safely pull back onto the highway. You need to be able to see back down the road so you aren't cutting anyone off.

Second, think about easing OFF the throttle, and moving to the right side of your lane when you come around a bend and hit a long passing straight. Make it EASIER for the other travelers on the road to pass. Don't be the jerk I've seen MULTIPLE times that accelerates hard every time he hits a passing zone so the cars he's stacked up don't have enough time to pass!

Those fools are the ones that give us ALL a black eye and create the brush of the Idiot RVer we all are painted with.

3. Worst of all... and this I see all the time... not just with RV's but cars just as often... so think about this when you're in your Toad as well...

You're in unfamiliar country (your license plates give you away people!!!) searching for a road sign to make a turn to get to the restaurant you've heard of for lunch. At the last instant you see it... Only that right turn is way over there in the right lane and you're three lanes away in the left lane...

You know what's coming don't you? The dang fool peels hard right across the other two lanes because; "This is my turn! I have to turn here!"

Uh... No - You - Don't.

Now first... if you're looking for a RIGHT turn... what in the Devil's Playground were you doing in the LEFT lane??? knock! knock! knock! Helllllooooo? anybody home???

Second; I doubt you'll starve if lunch comes a few minutes later. DO NOT make last second panic driven emergency tire squealing bootlegger turns... to get to lunch! Just roll on through the intersection calm and serene... and when you can, turn into a parking lot or side street and get turned around.

This time as you approach the turn, get in the correct lane to make it, well ahead of time. THINK!

4. This one involves one of those Harsh Realities. Some of the people sharing the road are just plain old, Brain Dead Stupid. My way of dealing with them is a thing that takes a little thinking about to understand.

There's some folks out there that will run you down, or try to no matter what you do or what you're driving. I get it all the time on the Raider. There's a weird transformation that takes place when their butts hit the seat of a car. Their eyes glaze, their respect vanishes and they grow these big Ol' Vampire fangs...

There's not one damn thing you can ever do to change THEIR attitude or behavior... So all you can deal with is your own.

Around motorcycles is a pair of ideas that I just don't agree with. One, Be seen. Wear bright colors. Keep your lights on bright. Be seen! The second is Loud Pipes; Be Heard.

Right... and how many times have you seen people cut off Ambulances in an intersection? Bright Colors.. Flashing lights... Screaming sirens and STILL... some idiot chippie or worn out geezer T-Bones 'em on a bright, sunny, windless day.

Or They T-Bone a semi... or Tail end a 30,000 pound Motorhome on the interstate. We barely escaped that last one near Salt Lake a couple years back.

If they can't see or hear the wailing flashing ambulance or 80,000 pound semis... depending on color and noise seems an unlikely defense.

... and some times the reality is there's just not a dang thing you can do... almost. The One thing you CAN do to make a heavy impact on your RV Driving Safety is drive your rig like I ride my motorcycle... I Ride like I'm  INVISIBLE.

I mean it! Drive with an Assumption. ASSUME that they can't or Won't see you. Think about it.

If... you drive like they can't see you... you start doing things, and operating your motorcycle or rig with one idea in mind; Since they can't see me... I won't put my ride or rig in a place that they can run me over! Understand?

There's plenty more tips and ideas to make it better on the road for all of us. This windy sermon just really scratches the surface. I could write a book! ;) The biggest thing to remember is "The Golden Rule"... Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you. Show some courtesy. Have some respect. The more you do, the more will be reflected on all of us.

and the more harmonious your RV Driving outcome is gonna be.

Just Stirrin' the pot


lostAnnfound said...

#3 is a BIG pet peeve of mine, too. Bad enough someone taking a quick sharp turn when they realize "that's the street!", but to do it ACROSS lanes of travel is just...stupid!!

And don't get my husband started on this. After driving trucks for 25+ years (Class A in the past and currently Class B), he says he has seen it all,that some of the yahoos (as he likes to call them) out there should not have ever been given a license because they don't have any common Sense!

MXOldtimer said...

OK just can't be silent on this one. Been reading Brian's stuff for quite a while now. 70 years old, RV'er, motorcycle rider. X trucker. Yep, seen them all avoided most for the past 55 of sharing our roads. If it wasn't so serious I would have laughed out loud at this one. All the right things Brian, lets hope that the rest of us rolling road blocks see themselves and kick in A LITTLE OF THE GRAY MATTER WE HAVE LEFT.

Cindy Kingma said...

I'm with you 100%. Seen all those situations as well. I've driven to Alaska and back, and to North Carolina and back, to Branson and back. So I think I've seen alot of those nutso drivers do most all you mentioned. And almost got wrecked by a deer a time or two.. This sermon will be needed about 2 or 3 times a year at least. Go Padre Brian!!

bill said...

It is noit just on the highways where the idiot drivers are.
Here in Utah, Salt Lake City area, the some roads are 3-4 lanes in each direction.
I have watched drivers in the extreme left lane suddenly realize they need to turn right at the next intersection.
So they whip acoss all the lanes, the heck with the traffic, into the right turn lane and all of this happening in less than 100yards.
Amazing that we don't have more accidents than we do.
And don't even mention the tailgaters and all driving above the posted speed limit.

Sharlotte said...

Well said my friend. I just do believe I have come across those drivers at one time or other. My pet peeve is the driver who decides he just has to get ahead of me (in the safe distance I have thoughtfully provided between me and the vehicle in front of me), slams on his brakes (to keep from rearending the vehicle in front), and takes a right turn on two wheels. As I am fouling the air and checking to be sure something isn't gonna come up my tailpipes, I see a beautiful empty highway stretching for a mile behind me!!!!
Explain that one to me. Geeze what an idiot.
Be safe, because I am beginning to believe that there are more of "them" than "us" out on the highways.

Rk and Cookiech said...

What can you do? The people that need to hear this either don't read you blog or just plain ole don't read. Excess speed is a huge problem every where and it is 10x worse near population centers. Our society is in a hurry with everything they do. I just love it when someone races past me like I'm sittin still and then there they are at the red light waiting for me. Ha Ha. What is the scariest is the joker behind me when I'm going 55 what's he doing? Nobody wants to be behind a rig of any kind. My biggest petpeeve is talking on cell phone while driving. I guess they figure the laws don't apply to them.

Tom Williams said...

When I'm movin' my hunk of home down the hi-way, I just assume that everyone else is a drunken, dazed, illiterate that is texting while smokin’, eatin’ and thinking about what fun it would be to run headlong or sideways into my rig. Then I’m just grateful when I arrive and have been proven wrong.