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Author Topic: Motorhomes and CDLs  (Read 4849 times)
Reddog
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« on: January 09, 2008, 07:39:27 AM »

 Hey gang,
  As earlier stated, we own and operate a gas station, and every year we see many rigs coming through that are being operated by folks, old and young, that have no business driving a car, much less a rig of 30+ feet. Many are also pulling a trailer, some 2! They have trouble getting into the gas lanes, they can't competently back up, they block service lanes and impede traffic in their attempts to get fuel. They are a danger to themselves and others.
  I understand that the RV industry does not want potential new owners to have to carry a special license to operate these rigs, but does anybody else think that you ought to have to hold a special license before you can pull out on the road in a 40' rig?
  I'd like to know the statistics on new RV owners and accidents within the first 2500 miles of operation. I read on another bus conversion site about a new owner who picked up their Skoolie conversion and knocked off a window unit A/C the first time he made a RH turn, hung it up on a light pole!
  Doug Engel, Gunnison, CO
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tekebird
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« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2008, 07:56:56 AM »

I think that if you opperate a vehicle of X length or y weight you should have to get a special license.

the ONLY reason that R/V owners do not is due to the RV Lobby as with the inception of the CDL program prob 80% of people buying new RV's would fail to pass the test...or perhaps even the medical

as for the schoolie and window A/C

you should't hang a window A/C on a bus......probably was overwidth anyway...LOL
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Len Silva
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« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2008, 08:03:40 AM »

Ask any RV dealer how hard it is to drive a large DP. "Just like a car, only bigger.  No problem".  Then the saleman will let you drive it around the block and tell you that you're ready to go anywhere.

Len
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« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2008, 08:10:28 AM »

My thoughts on drivers and special licenses is this (even for old people driving cars )

A personal vehicle should be able to be operated without a special license HOWEVER when a person is stopped or has an incident their driving skills should be checked.

Old drivers in cars or RVs or even young drivers who have no regard for laws or consideration for other drivers may need to be schooled or tested.

Just my opinion.

Melbo
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TomC
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« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2008, 08:36:19 AM »

What's crazy is in Calif (course there are alot of crazies out here anyway) is that with a normal class C license, you can drive up to a 40ft motorhome AND pull up to a 10,000lb trailer behind (overall length-65ft).  So now, someone that knows nothing about a bus or air brakes can jump in a 40ft'r and go on down the road! If over 40ft, then a non commercial class A is required with a medical certificate.
In my opinion, if the motorhome, or complete rig with trailer is over 26,000lbs, if it has air brakes, then a class A non commercial with medical certificate should be required.  Personally, I still have an active class A commercial license with active medical card. Good Luck, TomC   
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« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2008, 09:33:00 AM »

Frankly, I don't think overregulating does a damn thing except generate more money to be wasted by the politicians. It certainly hasn't done away with problems in the trucking industry. A good percentage of those drivers shouldn't be allowed on a tricycle,
let alone herding 80,000 lbs down the interstates. At least most of the RV owners are not driving under the influence of drugs or
lack of sleep!  But I think the worst drivers in the country are your common everyday automobile driver.

If you really want to improve safety on the roads, then every driver in the country should be required to take a refresher course every year or two that includes classroom and behind the wheel training. The government now makes kids spend hundreds of dollars to get training before they can get a license. The force them to take driving tests that don't mimic the real world, and fail them if they so much as touch the curb with a wheel. But many of their parents have never had training in their lives, and they're the ones who have to ride with the kids when they have their learners permit and effectively teach them how to drive a vehicle "properly". They're the bad examples the kids follow when they cut them loose at 16 with their unrestricted driver's license.

My daughter got her license in Dec, and while she scares me to ride with her, she's a far better driver than half the people I used to be amongst while driving to work on the 3 lane interstate.

I have held licenses in several states, including a class A license at the age of 18. I've driven everything from OTR semis to ambulances to bulk fuel trucks. The only driving test I've ever had to take was when I got my current class B CDL license in 1994, and that was only because I didn't go renew my class A when they instituted the new CDL rules in 1991 and instead let it expire. That was a dumb move on my part. I know I could benefit from a refresher course. I took a few emergency driving courses when I was an EMT, and they were very helpful in my personal driving as well.

Maybe the rv manufacturers should be required to develop a driving school at their expense that all potential buyers must pass before they can purchase a large motorhome.

And maybe the laws in the country should be uniform from one state to another, so everyone is playing with the same rules.

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Craig Shepard
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« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2008, 09:45:16 AM »

I agree, the last thing we need is more regulation!

First off, make everything an even playing field, every state seems to have their own rules. After that make a uniform agreement as to what really needs to be regulated. Maybe it's wise to pass more tests if you plan to drive something as large as a bus but I see far more accidents caused by the average Joe who has a small amount invested in his car than someone with a whole lot of money and labor in their bus or MH.

Take someone who owns a new Monaco for example, they very likely have quite a bit of driving experience and are also unlikely to risk their investment with stupid driving and tend to be pretty careful.

Personally, I plan on taking the CDL just for myself.


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« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2008, 09:48:49 AM »

I sometimes wonder where all the terrible drivers come from as it seems like everybody says they are a good driver and the problem is the other guy.  Not picking on Craig at all and I am sure he is a good driver.

I have ridden with one person in my life that I refuse to ever ride with again.  He tailgated everyone, switched lanes constantly to gain even a 5 foot advantage, and waited til the last second to slam on the brakes at intersections.  He has totaled one car that I know of.

I know I'm not a perfect driver, but I have no tickets ever in 17 years of driving.  I may be too conservative at times, but I would rather have someone behind honk instead of pull out in front of car with too little space.  I have also been forced to exit freeways because I refuse to merge over into a truck driver's safety zone or merge in between two cars with only a few feet in front/behind my car.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2008, 09:51:44 AM »

Hold the Phone....

Although I m one of the many with commercial driving and training specific to buses
I personally probably would not qualify for medical reasons if you go by CDL requirements.

What I think should be a standardized requirement is that anyone who drives anything over
30 feet or 80 inches wide should have a rider to their license for completion of at least 2 weeks training on oversized vehicles. Not necessarily to CDL specs, But a training and qualifications test to be completed. I could see that in many cases the qualification would need to be tested every 3 years
even if by minimal standards.

I am sure that this would upset a whole bunch of people. But when you consider the safety of some minimal training I would imagine that many people would appreciate knowing that the guy in the motorhome, bus or truck of any kind at least is loosely qualified to drive.

On the enforcement side, I don't know how that would work. Nor the incentive side of it unless you gained a discount on insurance if you had training. I would hate to see a lopsided system that caused undu grief through inept law enforcement which is probably what would happen.

For many Bus conversion owners and prospectives, Having a standardized training would be a worthwhile and valuable thing. Maybe someone can put a plan together and get some sponsors that could host a traveling road show that teaches the basics and puts owners in a large parking lot for basic handling and driving training.

Generally I am against more RULES over who can drive. But I have spent many miles in fear that the other guy who has no clue how to handle his/her rig is going to do something stupid and catch me up in a mess on the road. I have seen some scary stuff out there...

I dunno, Just my rambling opinion.... I would pay $50 a year extra.

Dave....
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« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2008, 09:53:16 AM »

I would probably have to give up my bus if special licenses were required to drive one.  It isn't that I couldn't pass, but I doubt I could convince my friends to pay for and take a special test to drive my bus.

My trips are such that I simply could not do all the driving and need my friends to drive.  My friends are wierd sometimes and would probably drive their personal vehicles 4,000 miles and sleep in a tent instead of get a special license.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2008, 09:54:42 AM »

One of the most valuable courses I ever took was my motorcycle safety class.  Bikes were supplied and it cost a whole 25.00!  I had a great amount of fun disagreeing with the instructors about where the controls for brakes, gears etc. were.  My first bike at the time was a 1945 Harley Davidson built for the Army so I really had them stumped.  As for driving our RV/coaches, I think a course would be great.  I don't think a real medical certificate is necessary, until maybe beyond a certain age?  I don't want to seem discriminatory about that at all.  I'd have no problem having to pass one myself. Smiley  I was lucky in that my friend - a truck driver of 39 years with more miles going  backwards than I have forward) taught me the in's and out's.  It was still quite an experience towing a 16ft boat and trailer behind my bus on the first turn.  No problems, did great but it was amazing to see how long it takes to make a turn.  I think that some states (California?) limit the length of RV and trailer.  Can anyone speak to that?  A 40ft (45?) and a 30ft car hauler probably should have some sort of permit/certification or insurance company incentive.
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Glenn Williams
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Reddog
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« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2008, 09:56:08 AM »

I'm the last one to lobby for more regulation of any type, but it is a problem. The ATV industry has instituted training programs and advertise their recommendation that all operators take such a course. Seems like the RV industry could do something similar, like buy your rig from us and get training for free. Even a few weekends in a parking lot with some pylons could help. Seems like slow, close quater manuvers and descending grades are where I see the most blantant lack of ability and understanding. Another problem is the "I'm bigger than you, so get out of my way" attitude. I try not to get in the way or block myself into a situation, but seems like I'm in the minority from waht we watch every year here at the station. Some pre/post education here would be nice as well. What ever happened to "the Golden Rule"?
Doug in snowy Gunnison
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« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2008, 09:58:39 AM »

Reddog, you just reminded me..
Some RV companies do have training courses at the factory rallies.  Some very good friends took it a few summers ago, and I remember Julia being excited about the backing up excercises.  I think they have a Newmarr.
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Glenn Williams
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« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2008, 10:06:58 AM »

I would probably have to give up my bus if special licenses were required to drive one.  It isn't that I couldn't pass, but I doubt I could convince my friends to pay for and take a special test to drive my bus.

My trips are such that I simply could not do all the driving and need my friends to drive.  My friends are wierd sometimes and would probably drive their personal vehicles 4,000 miles and sleep in a tent instead of get a special license.


That wouldn't be a problem. If you get the training you would be able to instruct your auxillary drivers
to operate your coach. Since you would be there anyway I wouldn't worry other than walking them through the basics as needed for your trips. I was only thinking that the primary owner/driver(s) would be the ones with the extra training, Who you trust after that is your concern. Having one person qualified and in charge would work.
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rv_safetyman
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« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2008, 10:11:20 AM »

We have been over this subject many times from the standpoint of whether a CDL is required.  However, the subject of should it be required is discussed much less often.

I have a class A CDL and think that some form of testing should be required.

At a MAK rally in Laughlin several years ago there was a fellow who made a presentation on this same subject.  His thesis was that we RV owners (or maybe just bus owners) should work with the government to develop a less demanding non-commercial CDL type license (maybe something like a class B) rather than have the government force us all to get Class A cards.  He basically was run off from the rally by a bunch of folks who took the "pry my weapon out of my cold dead hands" attitude.  Indeed, they were quite rude and he never came back (BTW, he owned the original "Madden Cruiser" and it was changed very little from when John had it.

Another story:  We were in our booth in Charlotte (FMCA) and a lady came by to look at one of our products.  We got to talking and she got quite emotional.  Her husband had passed away and he did not want to RV.  She decided to buy a 40 ft motorhome and enjoy life.  She bought the unit in Cincinnati and drove to Charlotte, hoping to take the "safe driving class".  On the way she had three damage causing accidents!  The RV dealer put here behind the wheel with no real training!!! Sad Sad.  To this day we wished we have gotten her name so that we could see how she was doing.  It turned out that she was too late to get in the class.  Also, the class, a good one, is only classroom and not driving.

Back to the license.  There are three issues that need to be addressed.  First is vehicle safety (folks should know how to do a pre-trip inspection), second is driving skills, and the third is medical (some older folks should not be driving, and some older folks are better drivers than young folks).

At the very least, folks should be made to carry a medical card such as that required with a CDL.  Maybe not quite so demanding (I barely pass the vision because of bad left eye).  However, any good doctor would be able to weed out an obvious person who should not be driving a large vehicle.

So, run me out of town if you wish, but at every show (currently at FMCA in Indio) I will see several folks who have no business driving those monsters. 

Jim
« Last Edit: January 09, 2008, 10:17:26 AM by rv_safetyman » Logged

Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
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Bus Project details: http://beltguy.com/Bus_Project/busproject.htm
Blog:  http://rvsafetyman.blogspot.com/
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