Because a coach is heaver, taller, longer, and wider than a car or truck, it needs specialized training to operate safely and effectively. We’ll be doing many exercises that will give you confidence in your ability to handle your coach, but for now we’ll just be discussing some basic theory.
Because the coach is taller, it’s center of gravity is also higher. This means that once you get that weight shifting one direction or another, it can overpower the gravity pulling the coach down to earth on all fours. You want to make turns slower, and preferably not too sharp. You’ll also need to watch signs and clearances. We have provided a cling on your dash of your coach height for your convenience. One of the most damaged portions of coaches is the upper right corner. It’s very easy to forget to check for height: trees, shrubbery, signs, and canopies.
Because it’s heaver, you need more distance to slow down or react. Slower lane changes, slower accelerations, and slower stops. You need more cushion around you to give you options. You need to be thinking further down the road than you might be used to.
Remember the concept of the pilot landing the aircraft: proper preparation further out is what makes you successful. With a coach, you don’t have much opportunity for last minute corrections, maneuvers, or obstacle avoidance. It is important to always be thinking about how you position the coach.
One last thing: Diesel pushers are on heaver chassis’ and air suspension system, thus they ride very low and relatively smooth. If you have a gas coach, you will notice a couple more things that aren’t as pronounced on a diesel pusher: roll, sway, and pitch. These terms refer to the movement you’ll feel riding a little higher on a spring suspension. There are after market parts available to reduce this added movement of the coach.
One of the most important concepts for you to really absorb is this: DON’T LET PEOPLE MAKE YOU DAMAGE YOUR COACH! What I mean is that if you make a mistake, or can’t make a turn, or turn down a wrong road, don’t force it. Don’t let the pressure of blocking traffic get to you. If you do, you may cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage to your coach – even tens of thousands of dollars – because you forced a turn you knew you couldn’t make, etc. It is ok to stop, block traffic, and make everyone wait. They might not like it, but they also don’t pay the repair bill, so don’t let the pressures of other drivers create an even worse situation for you. It’s your coach and will be your problem if you force it.