RV Drivers Training

Several folks have asked me about the RV drivers training that Daisy recently completed.  Since she is out visiting with family and I am here all alone, I figured I would do a quick write up on what we recently did with our drivers training course.

When we decided to go on the road, Daisy said she had to have drivers training, if for no other reason than to be able to get us somewhere if anything happened to me.  Some research on the web and I found RV Driving School (http://rvdrivingschool.com).  I sent an email requesting more information and in a day or so received a detailed response.  We were offered two options.  First was for both of use to take the training and the second was for one driver and the spouse could watch.  Since I had already had my trial by fire, we decided that Daisy would get the training and I would watch.

Ray Cassleberry was our trainer.  We chatted by phone prior to the training and got to know each other a little bit.  I explained to him what kind of background we had, what we were going to be doing and a little bit about our rig.  Ray did explain that he did not have experience in a Class A but he was an experienced tractor trailer driver and instructor for CDL.  He also told me about his experience with other companies.  After talking with him, I felt pretty confident that we could learn something from this.

We set up our training date, times and place for June 6, meeting at our campground.  Since we would be using our rig (this is a requirement), I made sure that we would be ready to go when Ray got here on the 6th.  All the hoses, electric, levelers etc where put away and slides in etc.  Ray arrived on time as promised and introductions were made.  Even some of the neighbors were introduced.  We had a safety briefing and went over the lesson plan.

Our first lesson was a walk around.  Ray showed us about the different parts of the rig to inspect prior to getting on the road.  First thing I learned was that our front wheels have an oil reservoir and how to check and fill it.  Ray when over everything from front to back and top to bottom.  Checking tires, pressure, thread, lug nuts, lights, stone guards, antennas etc.  Next we adjusted the mirrors.  Setting both the flat and convex mirrors.  Horn check and we were ready to talk about pulling out of the camping spot.  Ray explained the clearances needed and the fact that the tail end would swing around and that we had to drive both the front and back of the rig.  He stressed this many times over the two days of training.

Ok, part of that stressing was due to the minor problem we had pulling out.  Note, just because the rig sides make it, doesn’t mean the awning will.  Yep, we brushed a light pole while pulling out.  I heard it scrap and yelled to stop.  No damage, but I think Daisy’s nerves where on edge just a little bit more.  She wasn’t looking forward to pulling out to begin with, in fact she was pretty upset that Ray was making her drive from the get go instead of after we got to the ‘training’ ground.  But no damage was done and we managed to get on the road.  Next stop was pulling out of the campground into street traffic.  This was Daisy’s real concern.  Luckily, there was little traffic and we were on our way.

Ray was very good at keeping Daisy focused.  He reminded her to watch the mirrors, monitor, gauges.  Provided a tip on how to stay in the center of the lanes and in general had Daisy relaxing while we drove to York, PA for the training.  Once we arrived in York, Ray had Daisy making numerous turns down side streets, main roads both left and right turns.  She was getting pretty good at it.  Lots of stops and starts and turns and traffic.

Now back to the campground.  Next lesson was backing the rig up into the campsite.  Lots of stuff to watch for, including that light pole.  Believe it or not, she did a great job.  With Ray’s help she backed into the spot without any issues.  Even the neighbors were impressed.  I think they were getting ready for a Robin Williams RV moment.

I have driven the motor home a few times now and each time it has been a mentally draining experience.  I am mentally tired when we get to the campground or back home.  So, I wasn’t too surprised that when we got settled in that Daisy was tired.  So we went out to dinner and Ray went home for the evening.

Saturday morning was the start of Day 2.  Pre-trip inspection and we left the campground.  This trip was a short one only about 10 miles to a shopping center parking lot.  Today’s lesson was backing up.  Ray set up some cones about 1 and a half parking spots wide and taught Daisy how to back in on the driver side and passenger side.  He had me work as the spotter and then we switched places and Daisy was the spotter.  Again I was impressed at how well she did.  It is a 39 ft motor home and she was parking it like it was natural for her.

After the backing up training was done we headed back to the campground.  Here we practiced as a team, backing it into the campsite, pulling out and doing it again.  Once Ray was satisfied, we went over the post trip inspections and set up the site for our 2 week stay.

In my opinion the training was well worth it.  We both learned a lot about the inspections, driving, keeping the rig centered, parking, communications between the driver and spotter and safety.  I am confident that Daisy can take over for me any time.  In fact, I think she will be sharing the driving from now on.  Ray suggested that we split it with a couple hours for each of us every time we move.  I think that might be a good idea.

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