The 2019 Insurance Classic Motor Show : Our tips for driving a motorhome for the very first time The 2019 Insurance Classic Motor Show : Our tips for driving a motorhome for the very first time
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Our tips for driving a motorhome for the very first time

 

Motorhome travelling along a motorway

If you’ve only ever driven cars until now, the prospect of getting behind the wheel of a motorhome might seem pretty daunting. The thought of scraping the side of your new pride and joy as you attempt to make a manoeuvre is not pleasant at all.

But try not to worry too much – after all, the more hesitant you are driving the vehicle, the more likely you are to have an accident.

While it’s never good to be overconfident, you want to feel like you can drive your motorhome safely and assertively.

Before you get behind the wheel of a motorhome, however, you need to check whether you can legally drive it.

Only then you can think about taking out motorhome insurance and planning your road trip.

 

Do I need a special licence to drive a motorhome?

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 7,500kg. As you might imagine, this incorporates most motorhome models.

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 3,500kg or 7,500kg, depending on your licence – you will need to take an extra driving test.

Remember, 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

So, now that you’ve had it confirmed that you can legally drive a motorhome, you’re good to go. But before you set off to your destination, spend a bit of time getting to know your new vehicle. Here are our tips for new motorhome drivers:

A motorhome parked on the edge of a blue lake in a mountainous region with bikes outside of the motorhome

1. Size up the vehicle

As we’ve already touched upon, your motorhome is likely to be a much bigger vehicle than the car or van you’re used to driving.

So, get familiar with the enhanced dimensions – the vehicle manufacturer should be able to provide you with the exact height and width of the vehicle – so you can go under bridges and tunnels without wincing.

Hop into the driver’s seat and identify some reference points, both at the front and rear of your motorhome. These will help you when making any tricky manoeuvres.

Then use those reference points while practising some of your manoeuvres like bay parking and navigating tight spaces. It’s all about building up confidence at this stage, so do the manoeuvres as many times as you need to feel comfortable.

 

2. Extend your visibility

Modern motorhome mirrors provide excellent visibility – but there might still be blind spots where the mirrors can’t reach.

These blind spots can be an issue when trying to make manoeuvres or when sharing the road with cyclists or other drivers who may unwittingly place themselves somewhere you can’t see them.

Consider investing in a pair of blind spot auxiliary mirrors, which are designed specifically to increase vision and eliminate blind spots, therefore making driving safer for both passengers, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

With these clipped onto your wing mirrors, you should also find it easier to park and pull out of tight spaces.

A motorhome with its door open parked in a gravel car park next to a large lake

3. Check the speed limits

Some motorhomes must adhere to different speed limits than cars. So, it’s crucial that you check the maximum speed limits for your motorhome before you hit the open road.

We’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to – but you will need to check the weight of your motorhome. For reference, ‘unladen weight’ = not loaded with goods.

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)

Source: Gov.UK website

 

4. Stick to the main roads

When you input your destination into Google Maps or a similar satellite navigation app, it will automatically show you the quickest route. But when driving a motorhome, the quickest route isn’t always the best. For all you know, it might send you down some narrow lanes or, worse still, under low bridges.

So, plan out your journey with your motorhome’s height, weight and width in mind. While you might not be able to avoid 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.

It might not be a bad idea to invest in a sat nav system that is built specially for motorhomes and caravans, which will help you keep out of trouble on unfamiliar routes.

A motorhome driving on a road hidden by tall yellow crops and a wind turbine in the background

5. Apply your driving experience

As an experienced driver, you have built up all sorts of road sense that’ll come into good use when you’re behind the wheel of your motorhome. So, try not to get flustered when you find yourself in a potentially sticky situation – just fall back on some of that know-how.

A lot of driving a motorhome is common sense – like ensuring you always park facing outwards so that you don’t have to reverse out with limited visibility, or asking your passenger to get out to provide some extra guidance when manoeuvring your motorhome – so don’t be rushed into making a bad decision.

 

Protect your travels with motorhome insurance

To enjoy exploring the world with your motorhome, get the appropriate insurance and you’ll be able to travel wherever you want, knowing that you’re fully protected. Get a no-obligation motorhome insurance quote today.

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