If you’ve never driven a motorhome before, it’s entirely normal to feel a little apprehensive about the prospect. A motorhome is much bigger and handles very differently from your standard car, so it’s important for your safety – and the safety of others – that you take on board a few tips before you get behind the wheel.

                                         

The reassuring news is that driving a motorhome is not as difficult as you might think. But, like most things, confidence is everything. The more informed you are about what it takes to drive a motorhome safely, the more confidence you will have. It’s like when you know you’ve got the right motorhome insurance in place - you can just relax knowing you are covered.

 

Once you’ve got the know-how, the world is your oyster. But, remember, slow and steady wins the race…

 

Do I need a special licence to drive a motorhome?

 

Before you buy a motorhome (hopefully it’s not too late?), you need to check that you can legally drive one. Your driving licence will tell you all you need to know.

 

If you took your driving test before January 1997, you are automatically allowed to drive category C1 vehicles, which includes anything up to 7500kg. As you might imagine, this incorporates most motorhome models and even some RVs.

 

If you took your driving test after January 1997, you will have a standard driving licence that only allows you to drive category B and B1 vehicles. To ensure that most drivers can legally drive a motorhome, manufacturers try to build their vehicles not to exceed a weight of 3500kg, which is the maximum under category B.

 

If you want to drive a larger motorhome – in excess of 3500kg or 7500kg, depending on your licence – you will need to take an extra driving test.

 

Note: If you drive a motorhome illegally, you could end up invalidating your motorhome insurance.

 

If you’re nearing your 70th birthday, you’ll need to renew your driver's licence, which might cause you to lose your category C1 entitlement. To avoid this, speak to your GP.

 

Tips on how to drive a motorhome safely

 

Now we’ve got the legal bit out of the way, let’s try to make you feel more comfortable behind the wheel of your motorhome. Here are our tips on how to drive a motorhome safely and without incident…

 

  1. Familiarise yourself with the size of the vehicle

 

Before turning on the ignition, spend some time familiarising yourself with the size of your motorhome. The manufacturer should be able to provide you with the exact dimensions (crucial for going under bridges and through tunnels) – but actually feel the size of your motorhome.

 

Sit in the driver’s seat and identify some reference points for the front and rear of the vehicle, which will help you when making manoeuvres.

 

If you have the space, it might be a good idea to try parking your motorhome, using your reference points to guide you. This will also help you get used to allowing extra room when swinging out of junctions and trying to manoeuvre through tight spaces.

 

  1. Use your mirrors

 

In addition to your reference points, your mirrors are your best friend when driving a motorhome. Adjust them to exactly where you want them so that you have full visibility of the rear of your motorhome and use them frequently.

 

Obviously you won’t have a central rear view mirror to help aid your manoeuvring, but modern motorhome mirrors provide excellent visibility – just be aware of any blind spots where the mirrors can’t reach; typically just behind the cab door on each side of the vehicle.

 

  1. Keep within the speed limits

 

Speed limits are there for a reason – to keep all road users safe. Depending on the weight of your motorhome, you might have to adhere to difference speed limits than you’re used to when driving your car.

 

The Gov.UK website sets out the maximum speed limits for motorhomes with an unladen weight (not loaded with goods) of less and more than 3.05 tonnes.

 

Type of vehicle

Built-up areas mph (km/h)

Single carriageways mph (km/h)

Dual carriageways mph (km/h)

Motorways mph (km/h)

Motorhomes or motor caravans (not more than 3.05 tonnes maximum unladen weight)

30 (48)

60 (96)

70 (112)

70 (112)

Motorhomes or motor caravans (more than 3.05 tonnes maximum unladen weight)

30 (48)

50 (80)

60 (96)

70 (112)

 

Note: Those with an unladen weight of less than 3.05 tonnes have the same speed limits as a car.

 

So, it’s crucial that you check the weight of your motorhome before setting out and stick to the appropriate speed limit at all times.

 

  1. Plan your journey

 

Make life easier for yourself by planning a journey that avoids low bridges and narrow lanes. While you might not be able to foresee all the tricky parts of a journey, you can ensure you stick to main roads and minimise your risk of having a size-related incident.

 

Consider buying a sat nav system that is built for motorhomes and caravans, which will help you keep out of trouble.

 

  1. Use some common sense

 

Like everything, if you use your common sense, you won’t go far wrong. Here are some quick-fire, common sense-based final tips:

 

  • Don’t rush for anyone. If you’ve got somebody inpatient behind you, don’t feel pressured into doing something illegal, like breaking the speed limit.
  • Park facing outwards. When parking up, try to reverse your motorhome into the space, so that you don’t have to reverse out of it with limited visibility.
  • Use your passenger. If you feel like you could do with some extra guidance when manoeuvring your motorhome, ask a passenger to get out and see you back.
  • Seek out specialist motorhome insurance: While your motorhome insurance cover won’t make you a better driver, it can provide some crucial confidence and peace of mind that you’re protected in case an unfortunate incident does occur.

 

Motorhome Protect provides unlimited cover across all the countries that are part of the European Union. Get a no-obligation motorhome insurance quote today.

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