Don’t Let Stop-And-Go Traffic In Your RV Keep You Home
Driving an RV is a little different from driving a car. You have to account for things like slower stops and wider turns. Pulling your weight up a steep grade is a lot more difficult, and going down the other side of a mountain requires a bit of know-how in order to avoid burning up your brakes.
Another thing that’s a little bit different when driving a motorhome or pulling a trailer? Stop-and-go traffic.
Today we are going to talk about how to handle traffic jams in your RV. After reading this, you should have a good idea of how to be prepared for the inevitable occasional jam, how to avoid others, and how to deal with them when they do come along.
Before you leave
First, let’s discuss some things you can do before you ever hit the road in order to ensure your rig is well equipped to handle stop-and-go traffic. We will also touch on a couple of things you can do to avoid traffic jams entirely, so hopefully you won’t even need to use any of this knowledge.
Keep up with brake maintenance
Obviously, brakes are important even if you don’t find yourself in stop-and-go traffic. That said, if you skip out on brake maintenance, sudden stops caused by traffic jams—and the slow-moving traffic that tends to come along with those sudden stops—are sure to make you very aware of that neglect.
Make sure you keep up with your brakes, replacing pads and rotors as needed, so you can rest easy knowing your brakes will work when you need them. Use a tool like RV LIFE Maintenance to keep all of your RV maintenance notes and documents in one convenient place.
Set your trailer brakes
If you tow a trailer, you’ll also want to make sure your trailer brakes are in good shape. Part of this includes making sure your brake controller has the correct settings for your rig. Check out this video to learn how to do this:
Too much cargo can make it difficult to stop your RV. If you’re caught in a jam that pops up suddenly, the ability to stop quickly can be crucial. For this reason, you will want to make sure to know your RV’s weight limits and stay well within them when packing up for your camping adventures.
Change your oil regularly
If you find yourself sitting in stop-and-go traffic with your RV on a regular basis, you can actually start to put excessive wear and tear on your engine. One way to help combat this is by keeping up with oil changes in your motorhome or tow vehicle.
Take care of your RV tires
Tires are another thing that get a workout when in slow-moving traffic. Besides that, it can be difficult to pull over when in a traffic jam if you do happen to end up with a flat.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to take good care of your tires, checking the pressure often, making sure there are no worn spots, and replacing them when necessary.
Check traffic reports & use an RV-safe GPS
Before you leave home, take a look at the current traffic reports. You will be able to see any traffic jams that have already developed and might be able to navigate around them, removing the need to drive your RV in stop-and-go traffic at all. Use an RV-specific GPS like the RV LIFE App for safe turn-by-turn directions based on your vehicle’s specifications.
Lastly, it’s a good idea to take a look at your route and plan around rush hour or other things that could cause traffic to become backed up. Leave earlier or later to avoid big cities during busy times, and do your best to go around big construction projects.
RV Driving in stop-and-go traffic
Now that you know how to avoid traffic buildup and how to prepare for stop-and-go traffic, let’s discuss the best ways to handle traffic jams while driving your RV. Not only will these tips keep you safe, they’ll also help prevent excessive wear and tear on your vehicle.
The first thing you’ll need to do when heaving into stopped-up traffic is put on the brakes. Make sure you do this earlier than you would when driving a smaller car, giving your rig plenty of time to slow to a stop. Remember, you’re hauling a lot of weight, and it takes a lot more to stop such a heavy vehicle.
Create a space
You should always, always drive your RV with a large amount of space between yourself and the next vehicle. Some might think this doesn’t apply when going super slow or driving in stop-and-go traffic, but it certainly does.
Leaving a good buffer ensures you don’t accidentally bump someone, something that would likely ruin your whole trip.
Watch your transmission temperature
Stop-and-go traffic is hard on your transmission. Be sure to keep a close eye on your transmission temperature when driving in this type of traffic, especially if it’s warm outside or if you’re headed uphill. If you notice it getting too high, pull over right away and allow it to cool down.
Don’t push the gas immediately
Slow-moving traffic is frustrating and it can be tempting to push hard on the gas as soon as you see movement. This actually causes more wear and tear on your engine and brakes and uses more fuel than necessary.
Instead, simply let off the brake when you see the line move forward and roll until you need to stop again, pushing the gas only when traffic is moving more quickly.
Lastly, if you’re in a motorhome, getting up to walk around might seem like the thing to do in stop-and-go traffic. While it’s probably fine to get up to quickly use the restroom, it’s best to stay buckled in otherwise. Accidents can happen even when moving slowly, and you never know when traffic might pick up again.
Driving or towing an RV is different. You can’t drive as far, as long, or as fast. Knowing where you need to stop at the end of the day is a challenge, unless you have RV LIFE Trip Wizard. The unique Driving Radius provided by RV LIFE Trip Wizard shows you exactly where to stop and find a campground or RV park, based on criteria you have set. Plan ahead, plan smart, and know exactly where to stop.
Chelsea Gonzales is a full-time RVer, freelance writer, and roadschooling mama who loves sharing her expertise about RVing with kids, roadschooling, and full-time RVing. The entrepreneurial and free-spirited author is also artistic director of the Aistear Mobile Irish Dance Academy, and currently travels with her family in a 27-foot travel trailer. Chelsea’s informational articles about full-time RVing, raising children on the road, camping, and destination features appear on her blog, Wonder Wherever We Wander. throughout the RV LIFE network, and in RV industry media outlets such as Outdoorsy, Coach-Net, and RV Share.