Driving Bonus – Some theory and terms

MasterTrack Lesson

There are many tips and tricks that can make driving a large vehicle much easier. After many many miles, much of this becomes second nature. But even the most seasoned driver can benefit from some basic reference points and procedures!

The pivot point is the center of the back axle in most instances. If you have a tag axle, it is the same point, though some will favor the center between the two rear axles as a pivot point. This is the point at which the coach will pivot around during a turn. We marked the pivot point in your mirror earlier.

A spotter is the term for a person outside that is helping you maneuver the coach. There are standard hand signals you will want to know to effectively communicate with each other.

Review common hand signals.

When you drive a car, you don’t think much about the back wheels – they follow the front wheels. If you drive a truck, you might check your mirrors in a turn to make sure you’ve cleared it. You may not know it, but what you’re looking at is what’s called off-tracking, or off-track. Because the wheelbase is so long on a coach, the rear wheels do not follow the front wheels. They can be as much as 3 feet to the inside or outside of the coach during a turn!

Just to make sure you got it, once again imagine having your coach at an intersection, ready to turn right. Imaging you just make the turn like you would in your car – just crank the wheel and go. Of course we all know what would happen – you’d drive the rear of the coach right over the corner, hitting signs, light poles, or even people! This is because you coach off-tracks. All vehicles off track, you just don’t notice it in smaller cars.

Another important concept to learn is wheel cut. This refers to how sharply the front wheels can turn. This range is often between 45 degrees and even up to 60 degrees in new coaches. The sharper the wheel cut, the tighter of a turn it can make (and the more off-track it will be!). A more shallow wheel cut will require wider turns, but the rear wheels will track better than with a higher degree wheel cut.

Being taller also presents another concern: wind push (also “sail effect”). When driving an RV, you will feel the effects of wind much more than you have in the past, even if it’s just a little. We will teach you safe techniques for driving in the wind, but for now just be aware of it so you don’t get any invisible surprise pushes into another lane!