Overtaking Safely

Safe Overtaking with a Motorhome

Staying safe on the roads should be of prime importance to all of us.

15th December, 2020 by rvSafe Team
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Careful driving at all times is the way we should be doing things, but there are some things we do where the risk factor goes up. Overtaking slower vehicles, a perfectly legal activity unless otherwise indicated (like unbroken line markings), is one of those things.

Things to consider when overtaking with a motorhome

The majority of motorhomes are much heavier than the average car, but unlike trucks, on which many motorhomes are based, they are not driven by professional drivers — that’s not a slur on anyone’s driving ability, just a fact. When overtaking, the weight factor is certainly something to keep in mind.

Another is that, apart from some motorhomes and chassis imported from the USA, many are powered by European turbo diesel engines with capacities of around 2.3–3-litres and low relative horsepower ratings. It’s more than adequate in most situations but not if rapid acceleration is needed in a short time. When overtaking, these matters need to be taken into consideration.

Overtaking pointers for motorhome drivers

All overtaking should be done on the right-hand side of the vehicle — it does include multi-lane freeways and motorways, though evidence would suggest not everybody considers this reasonable. The only exception is when vehicles are stopped for some reason, like doing a right-hand turn.

Things to check for when overtaking with a motorhome

Before anything else, check ahead of the slower vehicle. Is there enough distance to complete your manoeuvre? This may sound obvious, but check for side roads, railway crossings and anything else that might affect your overtaking space.

Helpful Advice—

All overtaking should be done on the right-hand side of the vehicle — it does include multi-lane freeways and motorways, though evidence would suggest not everybody considers this reasonable.

What to consider prior to overtaking

With a heavier vehicle, it’s a good idea to sit back a bit from the vehicle you intend overtaking. When the time comes that gives you space to accelerate up to overtaking speed without actually being on the wrong side of the road. Check your mirrors to make sure someone else with a quicker vehicle isn’t trying to do the same thing you are.

Indicate before overtaking

Don’t forget the old indicators. Some people seem to think that modern vehicles don’t have these things but it’s usually one of the stalks on the steering column, left-hand side for European and US vehicles, right-hand side for Japanese. Apart from being a legal requirement, it tells anyone behind what you intend to do and may catch the attention of the driver upfront as well.

If you find yourself needing to overtake a truck and have a UHF radio fitted to your motorhome, communicating with the driver can make the process much smoother and safer. Most trucks display the channel they use on the rear of the truck, but if not, try channel 40, the most commonly used channel in haulage.

 

Passing safely with a motorhome

One final check is to make sure there are no blind spots (road dips or curves) that might interfere with your vision. Accelerate smoothly and rapidly to pass the vehicle in front and once past the vehicle, use your mirrors to make sure there’s enough clearance before moving back into the left-hand lane — if you get lucky you might get a quick headlight flash from the passed vehicle to indicate it’s safe to do so.

Final (important) word

Please do remember that patience is good to have at all times and goes a long way to ensuring a happy and safe journey.

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