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Old 08-09-2015, 09:48 PM   #1
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Hitting the road without hitting others-driver training

I have never driven a fifth wheel before and neither has my DH. Our sole experience with a tow was a pop-up many years ago. Now, we are in the market for a 30 ft fifth wheel and I am hesitant to use the highway for my driver training. Are there any training courses out there for new drivers who want to learn how to do it right before they get out on the road? We live in Maryland and we would gladly pay for instruction.
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Old 08-09-2015, 10:02 PM   #2
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I'm not sure of any private instruction with a real personable experience like you might get with a student driver for a car, etc. However, I believe in alot of cases dealers offer training for this type of thing. I know some of the big dealers do for sure but, I'm sure almost any dealer has someone experienced that gives these courses or would take you out to train you. Especially, given a sale. At the same time, you'll want to make sure it's good training too.
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Old 08-10-2015, 09:06 AM   #3
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Well at least it's a 5th wheel, they are more stable than a travel trailer. I've never towed one but from my understanding they turn sharper that a TT. While a TT will for the most part "follow" the tow vehicle, a 5th wheel needs a wider berth for sharp turns.
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Old 08-10-2015, 09:46 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by pearlbalt View Post
I have never driven a fifth wheel before

Sorry but my warped sense of humor made me laugh.



A great place is a very large empty parking lot, you can use the lines to mimic the road edges and learn how to turn and back the trailer, 2 people with radios or phones work better.

One thing I learned was about turning a corner, most truck drivers will go straight until the last moment then turn tight as opposed to making a smooth turn.

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Old 08-10-2015, 11:40 AM   #5
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There are a few RV driving schools around. It all depends on if you're close to one or not.

RV School

RV Driver Training: It's Worth Going Back to School! | Fun Times Guide to RVing

Supposedly you can contact various truck driving schools and talk to them about it. You might be best off talking to one about their instructors and if a specific instructor would be willing to do something one on one.

I know your pain! I went from a couple of summers of "towing" a kayak trailer from a parking lot down a walking path to lake side and back. Then I got a pop-up camper with a Durango. And then we went and got stupid buying a 42' fifth wheel and crew cab/long bed truck. I've caught a couple of curbs (ironically, 2 at slow speeds in the last month ).

The best thing (and only good thing) that my dealer did for me was sent one of their techs on a test drive with me. He sat shotgun while I drove for 30-45 minutes. He gave me tips and things to watch out for. It gave me a ton of comfort.

I sucked at backing up for a long time. Still do at times.
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Old 08-10-2015, 12:27 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by pearlbalt View Post
I have never driven a fifth wheel before and neither has my DH. Our sole experience with a tow was a pop-up many years ago. Now, we are in the market for a 30 ft fifth wheel and I am hesitant to use the highway for my driver training. Are there any training courses out there for new drivers who want to learn how to do it right before they get out on the road? We live in Maryland and we would gladly pay for instruction.
If you can find a large parking lot to practice backing and turning. Out on highway should not have trouble just be aware of the length and turning radius.
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Old 08-10-2015, 12:40 PM   #7
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Some states require a special license endorsement to tow over 10,000 pounds gross weight. I started from zero with a 36 footer. Steep learning curve. Here are a few tips

1. Braking. These rigs do not stop like a car especially going down hill. Make sure brakes and controller are set correctly. Know how to use manual mode. Get to know your rig and what it will do in a panic stop

2. Going downhill. Keep rig under control with minimum use of brakes. Use the engine. I use 45 mph max. Slower if steep.

3. Gusty crosswinds. Be careful. Sometimes better not to tow. Watch for dust devil twisters. Powerful.

4. Blind spots. Have good mirrors and double check when changing lanes.

5. Speed Maybe 1. Keep speed below 60. Maybe 50 while learning.

6. Stay off the Interstate while learning.

7. Think tall. Know your height and look up. Can ruin your day. Trees are your enemy.

8 remember the 5r three issues. Crunch trailer to cab
Forget tailgate
Drop trailer on truck bed.

9. Make a check list and use it. Both set up and tear down

10. You will learn something new every time out. Enjoy.
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Old 08-10-2015, 12:44 PM   #8
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YES, there are driving schools for RVers and, you would be wise to get training first. There are some one man operations as well as some more formal schools. Some instructors will come to you and train you on your rig (or theirs). Many RV Rallys have instructors you can sign up with. Here's the result of a quick Google Search:

https://www.google.com/webhp?sourcei...DriverTraining


For "newbies", I would STRONGLY recommend that you attend an RV Boot Camp. Escapees RV Club run an excellent one and, others are also available. Mistakes with RVs are often expensive and, sometimes dangerous. Completing an RV Boot Camp will make you a safer RVer.
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Old 08-10-2015, 12:49 PM   #9
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I suggest a stadium, campus parking lot on an "off" day.....pick up those small traffic cones to use as markers and observe the trailer wheelers as you turn to get an idea of how much "berth" you need as to not clip the curb. As stated earlier trees are your enemy ,be alert....practice is key..happy camping!
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Old 08-10-2015, 03:53 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by ependydad View Post
There are a few RV driving schools around. It all depends on if you're close to one or not.

RV School

RV Driver Training: It's Worth Going Back to School! | Fun Times Guide to RVing

Supposedly you can contact various truck driving schools and talk to them about it. You might be best off talking to one about their instructors and if a specific instructor would be willing to do something one on one.

I know your pain! I went from a couple of summers of "towing" a kayak trailer from a parking lot down a walking path to lake side and back. Then I got a pop-up camper with a Durango. And then we went and got stupid buying a 42' fifth wheel and crew cab/long bed truck. I've caught a couple of curbs (ironically, 2 at slow speeds in the last month ).

The best thing (and only good thing) that my dealer did for me was sent one of their techs on a test drive with me. He sat shotgun while I drove for 30-45 minutes. He gave me tips and things to watch out for. It gave me a ton of comfort.

I sucked at backing up for a long time. Still do at times.
X2 on the RV School. We bought a brand new TT and TV last year. It was the first time in my life I had ever towed anything. RV School training was excellent and gave me a lot of confidence in my ability to handle a wide variety of situations you might encounter on the road. It's 8 hours of behind the wheel training split over 2 days, so you don't get totally exhausted. They have instructors in many places around the country.
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